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Electoral Bill: Senate, Reps c’ttees to meet this week for harmonisation

Members of the conference committee set up by both the Senate and House of Representatives on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill will meet this week…

Members of the conference committee set up by both the Senate and House of Representatives on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill will meet this week for deliberation and harmonisation of the discrepancies in the bill.

The committee was scheduled to meet last Friday but the meeting was postponed, though the reason for the cancellation was not immediately clear.

The panel was set up to harmonise grey areas in the bill, passed by both chambers in July. Sources said after the panel meeting this week, the coast will be clear on the contentious clauses.

Prominent among the grey areas are the electronic transmission of results from polling units and the method of conducting primaries by political parties.

The version passed by the Senate allows INEC to transmit election results electronically after getting the green light on network coverage from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and approval from the National Assembly.

The bill, as passed by the House of Representatives, gives INEC the sole power to transmit results of elections by electronic means “where and when practicable.”

On party primaries, the House of Representatives’ version of the bill has direct method while the Senate passed both direct and indirect methods.

Daily Trust had earlier reported that there were moves by the Senate leadership to force only the direct method of conducting primary elections on political parties, against what was passed by the Red Chamber.

This is even after members of the House committee were said to have agreed with the Senate on both direct and indirect methods.

A member of the conference committee, who spoke to one of our reporters in confidence yesterday, said the House committee members have met to deliberate before meeting with their counterparts from the Senate to take a common position.

“We have met on the side of the House but we have not met with the Senate side as a joint committee for harmonisation. By the grace of God, we are looking at meeting this week. The only information I can give to Nigerians at this time is that the outcome of the decision will be favourable to Nigerians,” he said.

He said the discussions of members at their meeting showed that the overall interest of the country was given priority.

“From the first meeting we had, everybody was concerned about the future of this country and that was what really made me happy.

“I see people leaving party consideration aside and looking at the interest of the country. Like I said earlier, the outcome will be very favourable. Apart from the fact that today we are serving the government, tomorrow, we might be on the other side.

“Whatever decision we are taking, we are not taking it based on the fact that we want to please those in power right now; we have to do something that will favour the next generation of leaders of this country because we know we can’t stay too long considering the issue of tenure or even age.

“So we need to take this into consideration so that posterity will not judge us wrongly. My confidence is that it’s going to be a win-win situation,” the lawmaker said.

Another source familiar with the workings of the conference committee also confirmed that the panel would meet this week after lawmakers reconvene on Tuesday.

“The panel was supposed to meet last weekend but the meeting was postponed. They will meet this week to harmonise contentious areas. After Tuesday’s plenary, their meeting date would be confirmed. I can assure you that the National Assembly would be done with Electoral Bill this month,” the source said.

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