Senate presidency: Senators-elect oppose open voting system

Senate presidency: Senators-elect oppose open voting system

- The debate on which format the incoming 9th National Assembly should adopt in electing its officers is still on

- Senators are torn in between choosing either the Open Voting Pattern (OVP) or the secret ballot system

- Majority of the senators say they prefer the secret ballot system as it is in line with glob best practices

Some senators-elect have vehemently kicked against alleged plans to reintroduce Open Voting Pattern (OVP) in the election of 9th National Assembly leadership.

The federal lawmakers mostly from the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the option of open voting was contrary to the open-secret system contained in the 2015 version of the Senate rule book.

The senators say the secret ballot system is in line with international best practices in many developed countries.

“How can any group be agitating against what is already written in the Senate rule book which states that the Senate leadership will be elected through open secret ballot system,” one of the lawmakers said.

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Another senator warned that the recent agitation to change the voting pattern for the 9th National Assembly leadership will unnecessarily heat up the polity.

Also, some All Progressives Congress (APC) senators-elect who pleaded anonymity expressed fears that the continuous bullying and arm twisting of their colleagues by the national chairman the ruling party, Adams Oshiomole and his cohort like common children by enforcing Senator Ahmad Lawan on lawmakers for Senate presidency may eventually back fire.

One of the senators-elect added that it is laughable to call for open ballot voting in order to impose Lawan on lawmakers like 'class captain.'

“Let it be known that open secret ballot system is the standard system of voting in any civilized democracy, which will enable senators-elect vote their leaders without fear or intimidation,” he said

The lawmakers cited Article 21.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “the will of the people shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

They made similar reference to Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights (the Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica) which grants every citizen of member states of the Organization of American States the right and opportunity “to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free expression of the will of the voters.”

The lawmakers noted that Paragraph 7.4 of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, obligates the member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe “to ensure that votes are cast by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedure, and that they are counted and reported honestly with the official results made public.”

To the them therefore, agitations by some faceless groups asking the Nigerian parliament to reintroduce open ballot system is in gross violation of international laws and especially the Senate rule book as amended which categorically states that the leadership of the Senate shall be done through open secret ballot system .

APC's endorsement of Senator Lawan for Senate presidency had further inflamed the suspicion of lawmakers that the clamour for open voting against secret ballot was orchestrated by forces outside of the Senate who will stop at nothing to dictate its next leadership.

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Meanwhile, the Northern Youth Forum (NYF) has revealed it is mobilising support for Senator Ali Ndume to be the next Senate president.

The group said its decision was based on grounds that they believe the Borno senator will preside over the affairs of the National Assembly better and without executive or party interference.

President of the group, Turaki Yahaya Abubakar said it is obvious that given Ndume’s contribution to quality legislation that he will make a better Senate president, even as he called on the APC to play its role as a fair body to all its members and not impose candidates.

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