The Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to submit its report on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill at Tuesday’s, plenary session.
Some of the major amendments expected in the bill include the use of card readers and other technological devices during elections; limiting campaign spending by candidates standing election; and empowering INEC to review results declared by returning officers.
It is gathered that the committee has raised the campaign spending limit of presidential candidates from N1 billion to N15 billion. The committee also proposed an upward review of the following campaign spendings — governorship election from N200 million to N5 billion; senatorial election will now move from N40 million to N1.5 billion; House of Representatives is going up from N30 million to N500 million and House of Assembly from N10 million to N50 million.
On the other hand, stakeholders have expressed concern that an upward review of campaign spending would make elective positions exclusive for the rich, who can manipulate the electoral process to their advantage to edge out qualified candidates who do not have the financial strength to fund their campaign bid.
Reacting to the development, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who is the House of Representatives spokesman, explained that the bill was still a draft document and until it is referred to the Whole House for clause by clause consideration, it is not yet an official document that anyone could refer to.
He, therefore, assured stakeholders and Nigerians at large that the lawmakers did not insert contentious clauses in the electoral bill, noting that such claims are unfounded and a product of hasty conclusions.
It will be recalled that the electoral bill was passed by the 8th National Assembly, but President Muhammadu Buhari declined to assent to it on the grounds that the time the National Assembly passed it was too close to the 2019 general elections and as such, its implementation could be problematic.