Senators divided over adoption of secret ballot for Senate Presidency election

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The management of the National Assembly have concluded on using a secret ballot to elect presiding officers of the 9th Senate on Tuesday, Herald Nigeria has learnt.

A member of the management team of the legislative house noted that the elected lawmakers had already been given House Rules stipulating the voting method.

He said, “There were attempts to amend the rules of both chambers to give room for a secret ballot but the idea was frustrated by the outgoing leadership.

“I’m aware that advocates of the secret ballot method mounted pressure on the outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker, Yakubu Dogara,  and stressed the need to amend the rules in line with the global practices.

“There is no way management will come up with a voting method different from what is contained in the rule book distributed to elected members since April.”

The Punch also reports that members of the Ahmad Lawan Campaign Organisation had stopped their quest for  an open poll.

Confiding in The Punch, a member of the group said, “We are winning almost unopposed; so, there is no basis for argument over voting method again.”

However, the Director of Public Affairs, National Assembly, Mr Yahaya Dan-Zaria, said the Standing Rules of the chambers prescribed an open-secret system, which would be adopted for the next poll.

“Of course, an open-secret ballot; that is what their rule says. It is not from us; it is their rule,” Dan-Zaria had stated.

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But reacting to the development, one of the aspirants to the position of the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, told newsmen on Saturday that he would resist attempts to adopt secret ballot method.

Omo Agege stated, “In 2015, to the extent that the 2011 rules were not amended that ought to be the operative rule for use in the 8th Senate because it is the valid and subsisting rule. I can tell you there was never a time when this 8th Senate amended the 2011 rules.

“So what that means is that the 2015 amended rule is a Saraki rule. It is Saraki Standing Order; it is not the 8th Senate Standing Order and I can assure you it would not be used on Tuesday because it is not valid.”

On the fact that the same Standing Order was used throughout the life of the 8th Senate, he said, “Well, anybody can distribute anything. Its use will be determined on Tuesday.

“I have support from the APC caucus; I have the support of the leadership and the caucus of the party. I also have the support of the executive arm. As we go into this contest, I am very confident that come Tuesday, I will emerge as the next Deputy Senate President.”

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