A pro-democracy group, the Citizens Network for Peace and Development in Nigeria (CNPDN), has admonished the Nigerian Senate to halt the use of a secret ballot system in the election of its presiding officers.
Goldennewsng reports that the CNPDN gave the advice while reacting to the recent amendment of the National Assembly rules. Recall that the upper legislative chamber amended its rules during the week to prevent first-time senators from contesting any presiding officer role, among others.
In June 2023, when the presiding officers of the National Assembly were to be elected, the Senate used a secret ballot system, while the House of Representatives used an open ballot system.
In a statement on Friday, CNPDN coordinator in the Northeast, Adamu Ibrahim, said it is important that the Senate adopts an open ballot system to entrench democracy in Nigeria.
“The amendment of senate rules to stop first-time senators from contesting as presiding officers is a welcome development that should be applauded by all Nigerians,” Ibrahim said.
The statement added: “The decision of the 10th senate is in line with the best legislative global practice where leaders of assemblies are mentored by their assemblies.
“We are calling on the Nigerian senate to revisit the mode of electing the presiding officers.
“Section 3 subsection (i) states that ‘voting by secret ballot shall be conducted by the clerk-at table using the list of senators-elect of the Senate, who shall each be given a ballot paper to cast his/her vote’.
We therefore draw the attention of the Senate to note that both developed and developing countries operate an open ballot system, and Nigeria should not be an exception in entrenching democracy, a system we proudly laboured for.
“We therefore call on the Senate to amend this section, making it a rule for the Senate to elect their presiding officers only through an open ballot system.
“We once again collectively commend the leadership and members of the 10th senate for their foresight.”