The Senate, yesterday, said efforts were on by the National Assembly to amend the 2022 Eectoral Act to serve as safeguard against weaknesses identified in the law.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, made this known in his remark during plenary, following a matter of national importance brought by Yahaya Abdullahi.
He described the judgment by the Supreme Court on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act as a “landmark” that vindicates the National Assembly and noted that further amendments would strengthen the Act ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Let me say that this is one major landmark judgment by the Supreme Court, that the National Assembly had done their job and the court upheld it. The idea of what method of primaries should be adopted at the moment is entirely left for the political parties to decide.
“But as we implement the Electoral Act 2022, we are supposed to be very observant of the strengths and weaknesses of the law. This law is supposed to improve on the electoral processes and procedures in our country.
“So, it is for us to ensure that where there are weaknesses, we try to come up with measures, amendments to deal with the issues of weaknesses in the law. And, I’m sure it will come full circle when the 2023 elections are held.
“I have no doubt in my mind that all of us in the National Assembly, not only in the Senate, but in the House as well, feel that we must do everything and everything possible to make this Electoral Act serve the purpose for which it was passed and assented to.
Therefore, I believe that we should work tirelessly to take note of those areas that we feel are not strong enough – that are weak points in the law – with a view to strengthening them before we finally take our exit in 2023.”
Rising under Order 42 of the Senate Standing Orders, Abdullahi lauded the ninth Assembly for resisting the pressure from the Executive to amend section 84(12) of Electoral Act 2022.
He also applauded the Supreme Court for the clarity, decisiveness and unanimity of its verdict in upholding the separation of powers principle enshrined in our 1999 constitution.
He said the Supreme Court verdict is a major victory towards true democratic governance anchored on the rule of law.
“In my view, the Supreme Court verdict should be celebrated for the following reasons. It restored and anchors the power of making laws to the National Assembly; and establishes a principle that once the President accents to a Bill he/she can’t approbate and reprobate, i.e. he/she cannot go to the courts to amend/reject the Bill in part or in whole.”
Abdullahi, however, underscored the need to amend the Electoral Act to revert to the Direct mode of primaries.
“Our recent nasty experience of the misuse of consensus and delegate system has vindicated our earlier position on the merit of direct primaries provided that a verifiable membership register of political parties kept simultaneously at the Ward level and with INEC with all the necessary safeguards against corruption and data manipulation, is put in place.
“As the political process towards 2023 unfolds, the National Assembly needs to be observant of the loopholes and weaknesses of the 2022 Electoral Act, so that a comprehensive assessment is undertaken to provide adequate grounds for making amendments to the Act before the end of the term of office of the 9th Assembly in May 2023.”