Senate amends electoral act to allow NASS members, Governors, other ‘elected delegates’ vote at party congresses, primaries




Few weeks to party primaries, the Senate on Tuesday amended the Electoral Act, 2022, to allow National Assembly members, President, Vice President, Governors and other ‘statutory delegates’, all those elected to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses, or meetings of political parties, this is coming months after rejecting President Buhari’s request to amend section 84(12) barring political appointees from voting in the same circumstances.

This followed the expeditious consideration of a bill during plenary which scaled first, second and third readings, respectively, and was passed by the lawmakers after consideration by the Committee of the Whole.

Those identified as ‘statutory delegates’ include the President, Vice President, members of the National Assembly, governors and their deputies, members of the State Houses of Assembly, chairmen of councils, councillors, and national working committee of political parties, amongst others.

In his presentation, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who sponsored the ‘Bill to amend the 2022 Electoral Act No. 13,’ said it seeks to amend the provision of Section 84(8) of the law.

According to him, the provision of the section “does not provide for the participation of what is generally known as ‘statutory delegates’ in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties.”

“The extant section only clearly provides for the participation of elected delegates in the conventions, congresses, or meetings of political parties held to nominate candidates of political parties.

“This is an unintended error, and we can only correct it with this amendment now before us”, the Deputy Senate President said.

In his remarks after the bill was passed, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the amendment became imperative in view of the deficiency created by the provision of section 84(8) of the extant Act.

“The amended Electoral Act of 2022 that we passed this year had a deficiency that was never intended, and that deficiency will deny all statutory delegates in all political parties from participation in congresses and conventions.
“And, therefore, such a major and unintended clause has to be amended before the party primaries start in the next eight days. This is emergency legislation, so to speak.  Our expectation is that the National Assembly – the two chambers – would finish with the processing of this amendment of this bill, between today (in the Senate) and tomorrow (in the House of Representatives), and then the Executive will do the assent.”

The Senate President added, “That is so important to enable every statutory delegate to participate in the party primaries right from the beginning that will start on the 18th of May, 2022. So, this is an emergency effort to ensure that nobody is denied his or her rightful opportunity as a delegate, especially the statutory delegates, and these are those who are elected.

“These are the President, Vice President, members of the National Assembly, governors, members of the State Houses of Assembly, chairmen of councils and their councillors, national working committee members of all the political parties, and so on.

“This is a fundamental effort to ensure that we address this within the week, so that by next week, the Electoral Act, 2022 (amended version), will be very salutary for us to start our party primaries.”

Recall that the National Assembly refused to amend President Muhammadu Buhari request to amend Section 84(12) barring all political appointees such as Ministers, Aides from voting or be voted during elections, parties primaries, conventions.

For clarity, Section 84(10-13) of the amended Electoral Act say it:

It says: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.

“Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or rules of a political party, an aspirant who complains that any of the provisions of this Act and the guidelines of a political party have not been complied with in the selection or nomination of a candidate of a political party for election, may apply to the Federal High Court for redress.

“Nothing in this section shall empower the Courts to stop the holding of primaries or general elections under this Act pending the determination of a suit.”