By Williams Anuku, Abuja
The upper chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday bowed to pressure and made a U-turn over electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate has empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the procedure for the transmission of results during the general elections.
The Senate has also approved direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.
The amendments were made on Tuesday by the Senate to some clauses of the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) bill 2021, passed on July 15, 2021.
The Senate explained that the decision to subject the amended clauses of the bill to re-committal was reached after critical examination by the Senate Committee on INEC.
The Senate decision followed a re- commital process of amended clauses 43,52,63 and 87 of the bill earlier passed .
The re – commital process though rarely used, is adopted to reconsider decision already taken by the parliament.
The Senate, however, amended the clause when the bill was subjected to re-committal to provide that, “subject to section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.”
The chamber also approved Clause 87 to read “a political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the Commission.”
The Senate had on the 15th of July 2021 rejected the recommendation of its committee on INEC to give the electoral body the sole responsibility of electronically transmitting election results from polling centres to relevant collation points.
In an amended section 52 inserted into the Bill and debated on the floor of the Upper Chamber, Senator Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North) asked that INEC and the National Communication Commission (NCC) worked in cohort In the transmission of election results.
The suggestion however elicited debates leading the Red Chamber to adopt and amend section 52, giving INEC the role of electronically transmitting election results “where and when practicable.”
On a clause by clause debate on Direct Primaries and selection result transmission, Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi), who seconded the motion, said direct primary by political parties will help the electorates to vote their choice and reject money bags politicians.
He said the move to adopt a direct primary by political parties will help good politicians to come in and contest the election.
“People with questionable character will be elected,” Aliero said of indirect primaries.
But Smart Adeyemi who defer on the clause, said direct primary should not be applicable in Nigeria.
He said a good percentage of the party members to vote in a primary will require more money, adding that direct primary is cumbersome.
In his contribution, Bamidele Opeyemi (APC Ekiti Central) said that politics parties need direct primary so that every member of the party can contribute in advancing democracy, adding, “direct primary is a way of giving power to the people since every member will enjoy that right of selecting a candidate.”
He said if democracy most grow, they should adopt direct mode of primary, adding that the recommendation in clause 87 (4) states that the guidelines for the conduct of the primary must be submitted to INEC.
He explained that sub- section 7 said every aspirants shall be entitled to have a copy of the guideline at least 14 days to the primaries.
But the President of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who limited members of the conference committee from contributing to the debate, said they are to listen and take their submission to the joint committee.
On his part, Abdulfatai Buhari (Oyo North) said if people are allowed to vote in the primary rather than the delegates, the candidate, who emerged will know the support he has, adding that no one should be afraid of direct primary.
But the Senate minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia) said clause 52 (3) which talk about electronic transmission of election results should be made clear for the electoral umpire to decide.
Abaribe said in the original bill, political parties were allowed to decide the mode for their primaries, adding that political parties, who have the capacity to organize a direct or indirect primaries should do so.
Shedding light on the process later after plenary, Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru said the decision was not a U – turn but borne out of the need for sanctity and protection of votes and further enfranchising more voters.
Basiru said all that was done was to strenghten the decisions of the House of Representatives.
He said the Conference Committee will meet on the new positions and an harmonious position will be reached and forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.