The Senate and House of Representatives joint committee on Electoral Act amendment Tuesday adopted the proposed reordered sequence of elections in the country.
The National Assembly conference committee on electoral Act (amendment) bill which met in Abuja said that reordered sequence of elections, which places the Presidential election last in the order of elections, is that best for the country.
The House of Representatives committee on electoral act (amendment) bill had in its amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act included section 25(1) into the Act by reordering the sequence of the elections to start from that of the National Assembly, followed by governorship and state assembly election before the Presidential election.
This is against the old sequence by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which slated the Presidential and National Assembly election first before governorship and state assembly elections.
Adopting the reordered sequence of elections as contained in the House of Representatives version of the amended Electoral Act, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), put it to a voice vote.
The 12 members committee unanimously answered in the affirmative.
After the adoption of the reordered sequence of elections, Senator Nazif insisted that the bill did not in any way violate any provisions of Section 76 of the 1999 Constitution which empowered INEC to fix dates and conduct elections.
He noted that the words which empowered INEC to fix dates and to conduct elections were duplicated in the bill just as the power that confers on the National Assembly by Section 4 subsection 2 of the Constitution were exercised in relation to rescheduling of elections ..
Nazif said, ”For the avoidance of doubt, this bill with the inclusion of Section 25(1) which makes provision for sequence of election different from the one earlier rolled out by INEC has not in any way violated any provisions of the laws governing the operations of the electoral body. ”
The Chairman, House Committee on INEC, Hon. Edward Pwajok, on his own, said that what the House did and concurred to by the Senate was very necessary in giving credibility to the electoral process in the country.
He said, ”The sequence of election provision in the bill is not targeted at anybody but aimed at further giving credibility to the electoral process by way of giving the electorate the opportunity to vote based on individual qualities of candidates vying for National Assembly seat.”
Pwajok noted that if the bill was not assented to by the President, the lawmakers, would, based on national interest, “surely used constitutional provisions at their disposal to make it see the light of the day.”
He said, “On whether it would be assented to or not by the President, as far as we are concerned remains in the realm of conjuncture for now but if such eventually happens, we will know how to cross the bridge.”
A member of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), noted that date for election is the prerogative right of INEC, adding that the extant laws of the land give the schedules for such elections as sole responsibility of the National Assembly.
He said, “So contrary to reports and comments by some Nigerians on the reordered sequence of election, National Assembly have not overlapped its boundaries.”
Other members of the committee including Senator Shehu Sani ( Kaduna Central), Gilbert Nnaji ( Enugu East), Abiodun Olujimi ( Ekiti South), Peter Nwaoboshi ( Delta North), all spoke in favour of thh reordered sequence of elections .
The sequence of elections adopted by the 8th National Assembly was first proposed by the 4th National Assembly in the 2002 electoral bill.
It was later amended by merging Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The chairman Senate committee on INEC and his counterpart in the House of Representatives will report back to their respective chambers for final adoption before the amendment will be transmitted to the President for his assent.