The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill seeking to provide for independent candidacy in presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies and local government councils’ elections to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent in line with the provisions of the Authentication Act.
The Upper Legislative chamber directed the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA) to transmit the bill to President Muhammadu Buhari immediately.
The bill, as passed, provides that for any Nigerian to contest presidential election as independent candidate, he or she must obtain the verified signatures of at least 20 per cent of registered voters from each state 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, 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.
According to the bill, 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 bill also empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prescribe the payment of administrative fees by independent candidates for respective elections. It mandates the electoral body to waive 50 per cent of the administrative fees for women candidates.
Although the bill is coming on the twilight of the administration, political pundits said there has been precedence in the polity when bills were forwarded to President’s assent towards the end of the administration.
On 24th May, 2021, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the Freedom of Information bill and mandated the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa to transmit it to the President. Alhaji Maikasuwa did on the 27th May 2011 and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan assented to the bill on 28th of May,2011. President Jonathan was acting President then and preparing for his first term in office.
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.
The two bills 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.
Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee of Constitution review and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, in a motion during Tuesday’s plenary, informed his colleagues that Gombe State House of Assembly has approved the Constitution Alteration Bill Nos. 46 and 58 and forwarded its resolution to the National Assembly.
Senator Omo-Agege, 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.
The National Assembly on May 2, 2023, approved a uniform retirement age for judicial officers after it met constitutional requirement. The state assemblies that are yet to forward their resolutions on the constitution amendment bills are Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Plateau and Taraba.
The parliament had earlier transmitted 35 constitution alteration bills to the president for assent out of which 19 were rejected and 16 signed into law.