- Category: Politics
- Published on Thursday, 30 September 2010 08:01
- Written by Daily Trust
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The president was seizing upon the amendment window created by the request for extension of time made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the National Assembly, to introduce legislation that will lead to deletion of the provision.
Proposing amendments to grant INEC extension of time for conduct of the 2011 general elections, President Jonathan also proposed that the National Assembly should “Amend Section 87 by deleting subsection (8) and renumbering the former subsections (9), (10) and (11) as new subsections (8), (9) and (10), respectively.”
The subsection he wants to expunge reads: “A political appointee at any level shall not be a voting delegate at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of nomination of candidates for any election.”
The provision prohibits ministers, advisers, commissioners and all other appointees from voting as delegates at conventions which could grant undue advantage to incumbent political office holders seeking re-election. The PDP-dominated National Assembly had inserted the provision at the behest of party chairman Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who wanted to clip the wings of the mostly anti-Jonathan state governors. But soon after it was passed, Jonathan, who is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge for the PDP ticket, frowned at it.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday commenced the process of considering the amendments to the Electoral Act after taking the first reading for the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) bill.
Briefing newsmen shortly after the session, Chairman Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North) said the amendment process is expected to last about a month.
According to him, “I think there is a commitment on the part of all Nigerians, the Governors, the Speakers of the Houses of Assembly, the members of the National Assembly and all stakeholders that we give this two weeks, three weeks and we are done with it, maximum one month so that we will finish all the work.”
Eze said the National Assembly will not entertain inputs from stakeholders on the proposed amendments, saying “Luckily we do not need to start calling stakeholders anymore because the stakeholders have met even before this decision was arrived at. The stakeholders have also met with Mr. President, it is going to be easy and we believe that this will be done expeditiously.”
On the issue of staggered elections provided in the Electoral Act, President Jonathan has proposed that the National Assembly remove the sequence of elections in the Electoral Act to allow INEC determine how best to arrange the election dates.
The bill provides that “Section 25 subsection (1) of the Principal Act is amended by replacing the section with the following new section: Section 25 (1). Elections into the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor of a state, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation shall be held on a date and in sequence to be determined by INEC.”
The Electoral Act provides for sequence of elections beginning with National Assembly elections, Presidential election and then the Governorship and State House of Assembly election.
On the extension of time requested by INEC, the amendment bill proposes addition of subsection (3) to Section 25 of the Principal Act to read that “Provided that the said elections in the case of the 2011 shall hold not later than April 30, 2011.”
The amendment bill has also proposed amendments to the process of electing delegates for political party congress and convention by inserting a subsection that provides for identification of delegates and the procedure for elections of delegates in party constitution.
President Jonathan wants “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidates shall outline in its constitution or guidelines: (i) who shall be a delegate at the congress or convention, (ii) in the case of democratically elected delegates, the procedure for the election of such delegates.”
The amendment also wants Section 134 of the Electoral Act that deals with the period of filing and determination of election petitions to be deleted.
In all, the amendment bill seeks to alter 3 sections and six subsections to enable INEC more time to conduct the 2011 elections while political parties also have additional control in the process of electing candidates for elections.