LAWMAKERS are set to dare the Executive on the amendment to the Electoral Act, a senator said yesterday.
The problem is likely to be the plan to reorder the schedule of elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has placed the presidential election before the Assembly elections, but the Senate and the House of Representatives are planning to change that.
If President Muhammadu Buhari decides to veto the Bill, “we will know what to do”, Senate spokesman Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North) said yesterday.
Lawmakers want the Assembly elections to come first. The thinking, it seems, is that if Assembly elections come first, the winners may inspire a “bandwagon” effect, which may swing the presidential election.
In other words, the party with the majority in the National Assembly is likely to carry the day in the presidential election.
The Senate yesterday said it would push through the amendments after the harmonisation of the versions passed by it and that of the House of Representatives.
INEC’s schedule of the 2019 elections sticks to the order of elections used in 2015, which places the Presidential and National Assembly elections first. The House of Representatives passed its version of the amendment to the Electoral Act and concurred with the Senate to put the Presidential election last.
The Senate, which last year passed its own version, immediately set up a panel to meet with the House to agree on a joint position.
The new bill reordered the order of elections. It places the National Assembly elections as the first in order of elections with the presidential poll coming last.
The Presidency is believed to be unsettled with that arrangement.
Abdullahi said: “If you recall, for us in the Senate, as far back as 2016, we had already commenced action in the various amendments and as early as 2017, the Senate had already passed its own version of amendment. And the House of Representatives has just come out with its own version.
“Immediately they did that, the Senate President announced the conference committee to be chaired by Suleiman Nazif, who is the chairman of INEC so that they can do the harmonisation. So, for us, it is already done.
“The key issues have been debated and agreed upon. All that is remaining is to bring the two chambers together through the conference committee, which by next week, I want to assure you, will be concluded. Senator Nazif has travelled out of the country. He called me last Thursday and we discussed and I have it on very strong authority, next week, they are surely going to meet.
“As soon as they meet, the areas of contentions are not much. And I believe they will work together to make sure that we have an agreeable component that Nigerian people will be happy that we are deepening the electoral process.
“And barring any last-minute issues, I do not think that should take them two weeks. What we did was transparent. INEC was part of it. People with interest were part of it. Since we are passing what is popular, the presidency too should not take time in assenting to it.
“If the President decides to veto to bill, we will know what to do when we get to that bridge. For now, I do not envisage that extreme situation. This is democracy. I am hoping that we work based on consensus. At the end of the day, we should be able to agree. The interest of Nigerians is paramount and we must not take it for granted.”
Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Prof Chidi Odinkalu said last night that “if it is within the competence and the scope of what the national Assembly can do, I don’t see why not.
“Nigerians are used to speculating and imputing motives into such moves, which I don’t think is healthy. In many ways, I can also rationalize it, because the presidential election is very huge and requires a lot of logistics. Why don’t we peg those logistics with the parliamentary elections first, before going into the presidential election? Why don’t we perfect the system with the governorship election first, before embarking on the presidential election? It all seems to me to be perfect and rational but sometimes the nature of our speculation is neither rational nor logical.
Second Republic Presidential Adviser Alhaji Tanko Yakassai said he did not know whether the national assembly’s move is “a good idea or not.”
He added: But from the point of view of the constitution, it is the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decide the order of elections. I don’t know why the National Assembly is embarking on the exercise to reverse the order of the elections, but let’s see how it works out.”
Senator Abdullahi also said the Senate had confidence in Senate President Bukola Saraki’s leadership. “Nobody can remove Saraki. We elected him and we are not ready to remove him yet. From day one, they never wanted Saraki. What we are saying is that the right to choose the Senate President lies with senators and we have chosen our leader.”
Killings by herdsmen: Osinbajo panel wants increased military presence in trouble spots
Published January 29, 2018
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Olalekan Adetayo, Femi Makinde, Leke Baiyewu, Justin Tyopuusu, John Charles and John Charles
The Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee set up by the National Economic Council to find lasting solutions to killings by herdsmen across the country has recommended increased military presence in Benue and other states affected by the attacks.
The committee, which has nine state governors as members, was formed at the council’s meeting of January 18, 2018.
The governors on the committee are those of Kaduna, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Edo, Plateau, Oyo and Ebonyi states.
A top government official who is conversant with the work of the committee told journalists on condition of anonymity on Sunday that decisive military force would be deployed to end the attacks.
The source also said the government believed that bandits and mercenaries, and not herdsmen, were responsible for the killings.
He said, “Decisive military force will now be fully engaged to deal with the bandits believed to be behind the killings in parts of the country, especially regarding the crisis often associated with herdsmen.
“The settled view in official circles is that the reported killings and violence recorded are the work of bandits and mercenaries since in many cases the herdsmen are often well-known in the communities where their cattle normally graze.”
The source disclosed that the committee started its work with a meeting presided over by Osinbajo immediately after the last meeting of the council held inside the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“At the end of the meeting last week, it was clear that a decision had been taken in the management of the crisis by engaging the military in a more decisive manner,” he added.
The government official added that another major outcome of the committee’s meeting was the need to locate and identify the bandits who perpetrated the killings and violence.
He said the committee had also resolved to urge the Federal Government to strengthen law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies in the country so they could coordinate better in dealing with and preventing the crisis from escalating.
The source said the committee also took a position that every state should design its own solutions on how to permanently address herdsmen and farmers’ clashes.
“The Federal Government will not impose any solution on any state. The fears being expressed on cattle colonies are misplaced,” he said.