The House of Representatives on Tuesday amended the Electoral Act to change the order of 2019 general elections’ time table. The amendments were made in a committee of the whole House presided over by the deputy speaker, Yusuff Lasun.
With the amendment of Section 25 of the Electoral Act, and inclusion of Section 25(i):
- The National Assembly election is to hold first, followed by,
- The gubernatorial and state assembly elections, and then followed by,
- The presidential elections.
Why this matters
It is important to note that this reordering of the order of the elections is coming less than a month after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time-table for the general elections. The new order is at odds with the order released by INEC.
INEC had proposed for the presidential and national assembly elections to hold first while the gubernatorial and state assembly elections are to hold subsequently.
If the House of Reps amendment is also adopted by the senate and assented to by Pres. Muhammadu Buhari, it means that Nigerians would have to go to the polls three times – a situation that could lead to voter fatigue.
The amendment is likely a self preservation strategy by the national lawmakers who are wary of holding elections same day as the presidential elections to prevent a bandwagon effect.
Other amendments passed by the House while considering the report of the House Committee on Electoral Matters which proposed amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended):
- Section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties”. “The primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship, and (iv), President. “The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”
- Section 36 was amended to allow running mates of candidates who die before the conclusion of elections inherit his votes and continue with the process.
- Section 35 was amended to provide that if a nominated candidate dies before an election, the next person from the same political party with the second highest votes in the primary election should replace the deceased. It stated that the name of the new person should be submitted to INEC, which should accept such replacement as if the deceased was alive.
- The House also made an increment in the limitation of election expenses to be incurred by candidates for presidential candidates from N1 billion to N5 billion; governorship bill from N200 million to N1 billion; Senatorial and Representatives candidates’ expenses are not to exceed N100 million and N70 million, respectively; State Assembly and local government chairmanship elections, candidates’ expenses had been raised from N10 million to N30 million while councillorship candidates ceiling was raised from N1 million to N5 million.
- Individual contribution for elections was increased from N1 million to N10 million.