The Senate, on Tuesday, directed the Clerk of the National Assembly to transmit to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari ( retd.), a bill seeking to provide for independent candidacy in elections from local government to the national level.
The bill proposes that for any Nigerian national to contest the presidential election as an independent candidate, he or she must obtain the verified signatures of at least 20 per cent of registered voters from each of the 36 states of the federation, “provided that a registered voter shall not sign for more than one independent candidate in respect of the same office.”
For governorship elections, the independent candidate must obtain the verified signatures of at least 20 per cent of registered voters from each of the local government areas of the state.
The bill also states that anyone willing to contest National Assembly elections must obtain the verified signatures of at least 20 per cent of registered voters from each of the local government areas in the respective senatorial district or federal constituency.
The proposed legislation empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission to prescribe the payment of administrative fees by independent candidates for respective elections.
It mandated the electoral body to waive 50 per cent of the administrative fees for women candidates, among others.
The Constitution Alteration Bill No. 58 would be transmitted to the President, in line with the provisions of the Authentication Act.
The Clerk was also directed to transmit to the President, Constitution Amendment Bill No. 46, which seeks to include the presiding officers of the National Assembly in the membership of the National Security Council.
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The two proposals were part of the Constitution Alteration Bills transmitted to state Houses of Assembly for concurrence last year but not part of the 35 that secured the required approval of 24 out of 36 state assemblies.
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, in a motion during Tuesday’s plenary, informed his colleagues that Gombe State House of Assembly had approved the Constitution Alteration Bill Nos. 46 and 58 and forwarded its resolution to the National Assembly.
Omo-Agege, who is the Chairman of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Review, said with the approval of the Gombe Assembly, the bills on the independent candidacy and inclusion of National Assembly presiding officers in the National Security Council membership have met the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Constitution for passage.
The Senate, after adopting the motion, directed the Clerk of the National Assembly to transmit the bills to the President for his assent.
Reacting to the proposed candidacy, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Victor Oye, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday, described the proposal as an enabler of democracy if it passes legislative scrutiny of the constitutional amendment.
He said, “It is a novel provision that will take some time to be internalised by Nigerians. To date, it is yet to fully take root in the United States of America, let alone Nigeria. All the same, it will help to advance our democracy and give more impetus to our democratic process. We support it and we believe it will not in any way, weaken political parties.”