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Electoral Act Amendment Bill passes second reading for 4th time

Nigeria's Electoral Act 2010 amendment Bill which seeks to strengthen the country's electoral process has passed second reading in the Senate.

This is the fourth attempt by the lawmakers to amend the Bill which has serially been rejected by the President on the grounds of inconsistency with the constitution.

Senator Suleiman Nazif who chairs the Senate Committee on INEC and electoral matters, while presenting the committee's report during Wednesday's plenary, said the current amendment will address all controversies raised by President Muhammadu Buhari which led to him withholding assent three times.

He explained that the joint committee came up with additional amendments that will adequately address sequence of elections and make provision for card reader as well as empower the National Assembly to legislate for Local Government Councils.

However, some Senators still raised objections to some of the provisions in the proposed amendment Bill, describing it as un-implementable but the Senator representing Taraba Central Senatorial district, Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, disagreed with his colleagues.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, directed the committee to re-work the proposed amendment Bill and report back next-week Tuesday for further legislative action.

The proposed amendment is coming a few months to the general election which has been slated for February 2019.

Elections budget

Meanwhile, the senate committee on appropriations has approved a N189bn budget for the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct the 2019 general election.

The committee gave its approval to the budget on Wednesday after its meeting where several issues concerning the budget were thoroughly deliberated.

Senate appropriations committee meeting was sequel to a fresh letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, requesting the lawmakers to approve the total of N189 billion at once for the 2019 general election, contrary to his earlier demand that the funds be approved in two separate batches.

The President in his previous communications to the parliament, requested the lawmakers to approve =N=143 billion for INEC, from the various projects in the 2018 budget, while the balance of =N=46 billion would be appropriated in the 2019 budget, for some of the items that may not require immediate action ahead of the elections.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, confirmed that the committee's decision to approve the latest request by the President was to forestall any unforeseen circumstances, including a possible delay in passing or assenting to the 2019 budget.

Voice of Nigeria understands that the report of the appropriations committee would be presented to the Senate in plenary on Thursday, for possible consideration and approval.

In another development, the two Senators who recently won their elections into the National Assembly ,took their oath of office earlier on Wednesday during the plenary session.

Senator Ahmed Kaita of the North Senatorial district was sworn in to replace his predecessor, the late Senator Bukar Mustapha.

Senator Lawan Gumau of Bauchi South Senatorial district was also sworn in to replace the late Senator Ali Wakil.

Source: Voice of Nigeria