Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives has vowed to reintroduce the Electoral Act Amendment Bill that President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to towards the end of his first term in office.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Aisha Dukku, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the inaugural meeting of the committee, where she stressed the need to reintroduce the bill in order to ensure that important amendments that would improve the country’s electoral process are done.
She reminded the committee members that during the life span of the eighth Assembly, 12 bills seeking to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 and the Electoral (amendment) Act 2015 sponsored by members of the House were referred to the committee after subsequent second reading for further legislative action.
Dukku stressed that as both the 1999 Constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) regulate the conduct of elections in Nigeria, as it was anticipated that the committee’s report on the aforesaid amendment bills, which she said was an infusion of its input and recommendations from various stakeholders would further strengthen and deliver on such expectations.
The chairman noted that following in-depth reviews, the committee made recommendations to the House on numerous amendments of the Electoral Act for approval, and the report was submitted and adopted on December 7, 2017.
She explained that the National Assembly passed the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill 2018 and forwarded same to the president for his assent pursuant to section 58 (4) of the 1999 Constitution amended, but the president however declined assent due to some lacuna or drafting issues in some of the clauses of the bill, and advised that those observations be addressed.
The committee chairman said the president’s observations were accordingly addressed, and the bill was again passed in December 2018 and later in April 2019 following another decline to assent by the president inter alia.
She stated that: “As it stands, the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill is still hanging; hence there is need for this committee to bring it up because there are several important amendments that will improve our electoral process.
“It also requires that a number of fundamental shortcomings is still to be addressed for the legislative framework to be fully in line with universal and regional standards for elections.”
Dukku promised that the committee would do everything within its powers to improve and strengthen the conduct of elections in Nigeria, adding that the committee would partner all relevant electoral and political bodies, civil society organisations, both local and international, to make sure it succeeds in its mandate.
Members of the committee, however, suggested that the grounds on which the president declined assent should be highlighted to guide their work.
They also suggested that they start the process of the amendment early, while also lamenting that it was troubling and embarrassing that after several amendments were made to the Act, it was still not assented to.
Meanwhile, the North East Development Commission (NEDC) has said it has only been paid N25 billion out of the N45 billion budgeted for rehabilitation of the insurgency ravaged North-east region.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Mohammed Alkali, made this disclosure during an interactive session with the House Committee on NEDC.
According to him, “In the 2019 budget, we have a take-off grant of N10billion and N45billion for humanitarian and developmental intervention in the region. So far, we just received the take-off grant and part of the intervention fund. Out of N45billion, we have received only N25billion, of which we have started implementing activities in our 2019 budget.”
However, the moment Alkali started giving a breakdown of the commission’s 2020 budget, the Chairman of the Committee, Khadijah Bukar, ordered journalists out of the meeting.