National Assembly to complete constitutional amendments early 2017, says Saraki
• Senate split over dead presidential, gov candidates
• Allows parties to decide on method of primaries
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said that the on-going process of amending the 1999 Constitution being undertaken by the 8th National Assembly would be completed early next year.
Saraki spoke when the National Executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) led by its President, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmud (SAN) visited him at the National Assembly, Abuja yesterday.
According to the Senate President: “On the issue of constitution amendment, we started very early on this because we know it can be a problem if it comes close to election year.
“We try to take important issues first and the members of the committee are working tirelessly on this. By the time it will be ready, we will send it to the speakers of states Assembly.”
He continued: “Working in collaboration with the House of Representatives, we hope that the document will be similar and reduce areas of difference. I am looking at the end of this year or the first couple of weeks in January next year or thereabout. We should be able to debate and pass the amendments and send it to the states.”
On the Electoral Act, Saraki said, “we started this process very early and it has gone through second reading, gone through public hearing. Some of the issues like postponement of elections, electoral voting, some of the un-envisaged cases like the one in Kogi State have been taken into consideration and I believe the sooner we can pass the amendments, the better it is in the interest of Nigerians.”
And for the second time in three weeks, the Senate became divided on how to amend the Electoral Act to resolve the crisis that could arise if the candidate of a party dies during presidential or governorship elections.
The upper chamber suspended deliberations on the issue three weeks ago following sharp disagreements on who should become the candidate of a party who lost its candidate during an election.
This forced the Senate President to ask that the bill be sent back to the committee on INEC for further legislative work.
It was learnt that there were disagreements on the proposal for direct and indirect primaries for determination of candidates by the political parties.
The senators again raised questions on who should be the right candidate to get the ticket in the case of the death of a candidate midway into an election.
They agreed to leave the issue of direct primaries to be determined by the political parties.
“It was concluded that the parties could become hamstrung if the National Assembly fixes the mode of primaries in the Electoral Act,” a source said.