Reps adopt conference report on electoral amendment



The House of Representatives on Tuesday adopted the Conference Committee Report on the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill 2021.

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The Senate also adopted the report, implying the final passage of the bill by the National Assembly.


Ahead of the harmonisation of the bill in conference, the Senate had aligned with the House’s version on the provision on electronic transmission of election results.

The version earlier passed by the House, which the Senate aligned with, empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of transmission of election results.

This means that the choice of whether to transmit results electronically or use any other methods is entirely left to INEC to determine.

Recall that the House had earlier passed this provision in Clause 52(2) in July, clearly empowering INEC to decide whether to use electronic means or manual method in transmitting election results.

But the Senate, in its own version, subjected INEC’s powers to use electronic means of transmitting results to confirmation by the Nigerian Communications Commission and the approval of the National Assembly.

However, following the uproar generated by the provision, the Senate re-committed the bill to its Committee of the Whole, where it amended the controversial version and aligned it with the House’s version as originally captured in the re-enacted bill.

In line with the procedure for passing a bill, the two chambers had to raise a conference committee once again by way of formality to look at the realignments made by the Senate and any other changes, for adoption.

The adoption was done separately in both chambers on Tuesday to get the bill ready for transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

Recall also the role of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila in making a major amendment to the bill on the mode of conducting primaries by political parties.

By the provision of the bill as adopted on Tuesday in the two chambers, the mode of conducting primaries shall be by Direct Primary Election.

The earlier provision, which the National Assembly altered on the recommendation of Gbajabiamila, was that parties could use either indirect or direct mode to conduct primaries.

The direct primary mode has major advantages, including transparency, cost-effectiveness, promotion of democratic values, mass participation and less influence by vote buyers and manipulators.

Besides, many Nigerians, political party supporters and political groups across the country have on several occasions clamoured for direct primaries.

Some have argued that “power must return to the people.”

Recall that ahead of the 2019 general elections, many stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had staged protests, demanding the use of direct primaries to pick candidates for the election.

One easily remembered classical instance was when members of The Grassroots Mobilizers for Buhari/Osinbajo (GMBO) carried placards to the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja, urging the then National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, not to allow the use of indirect primaries to pick the party’s candidates.

The group insisted that direct primaries were far better, transparent and would return power to the hands of ordinary Nigerians.

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