The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday reconsidered some clauses of the Electoral Act (as amended) empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission to determine the best way to transfer election results.
By this resolution the Senate has tactically backed the commission on its decision to transmit results electronically.
This came after the Conference Committee report which placed the power of transmitting election results on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Upper Chamber also ruled that political parties seeking to nominate candidates for elections shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which will be monitored by INEC.
This adoption has restored INEC’s discretion to transmit results without recourse to other arms of government as was initially passed by the Senate that became a subject of controversy.
These were some of the resolutions reached on the floor after a heated debate on a motion by the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi.
Although Senators Smart Adeyemi and Shauibu Lau opposed direct primaries due to its huge cost, Abdulfatah Buhari, Adamu Aliero and Opeyemi Bamidele said it is the best means of selecting credible candidates while also giving party members a sense of belonging.
Clearly, the House of Representatives, version which affirmed INEC’s sole powers to transmit results was sustained by the Conference Committee and eventually scaled.
Senator Adamu Aliero and former governor of Kebbi State in his views urged Senators to support the amendment in order to strength democracy, stating that democratic process should be allowed to grow.
He said that, “this is a move that will deepen our democracy and a move that will make the electorate to vote according to their conscience”.
While also supporting direct primaries, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele representing Ekiti Central Senatorial district said every card carrying member of a political party should be allowed to vote for their aspirants, adding that indirect primary was anti-democratic.
“I support this motion and like to mention specifically that in clause 87 that every card carrying member of any political party should be able to vote and it is a way of giving back power back to the people”.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the senate minority leader, in his contributions said that, parties should be allowed to use whatever mode of primary election that suits them.
“The original situation was that the party was left with choices to determine what suits them,” Abaribe said.
Noting that, “Not all parties have capacity to do direct primaries. I think we may have to leave it open.”
Recall that lawmakers had earlier rejected electronic transmission of results but INEC faulted the resolution stating that it has the capacity.