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Electoral Act: House Includes Consensus Option in Bill

The House of Representatives has added “consensus” as a third option for the nomination of candidates of political parties for election in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

This brings the options to three electoral processes – direct primaries, indirect primaries and nomination by consensus.

The House, which was presided over by the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, included the new provision in the bill on Tuesday after it had rescinded the earlier version it passed on Thursday, last week.

This has brought the House’ version in line with the Senate’s, which already incorporated consensus as a third option for the nomination of candidates.

Ahead of the recision of its decision and recommittal of the bill on Tuesday, Gbajabiamila had explained to members that the step became necessary in order to speed up the passage of the bill and its transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

He stated that without the consensus option in the House’ version of the bill would mean that both chambers would have to raise conference committees to reconcile their differences which could further delay the bill, which was needless.

He stated, “This House last week added indirect primaries to our law.

“Unfortunately, on the other side, the Senate added both indirect primaries and consensus. This made it necessary for a conference committee of both chambers.

“However, the leadership of the House met yesterday (Monday) and agreed to add consensus as well in order to speed up the process and therefore to have no need for a conference, provided that there will be some conditions to protect all aspirants.”

Following the Speaker’s explanations, the House proceeded to amend Clause 84, sub 1-13.

For instance, under 84 (2), nomination by consensus was added to the existing direct primaries and indirect primaries.

Also, 84 (3) was amended to clarify that nobody can be disqualified from contesting an election except in the manner prescribed in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The provision clearly states that in the event a political party opts for consensus candidacy, all other aspirants must indicate their withdrawal from the race by endorsing the candidate so nominated by the consensus.

Where the consensus option fails, the bill provides that all concerned shall revert to either direct or indirect primaries to nominate a candidate.

In addition, a consensus candidate shall be ratified at a special convention of the party.

The bill was then read for the third time and passed.

From the House of Representatives

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