President Muhammadu Buhari, governors and other elected officers will now be recognized by law as statutory delegates in political primary elections of political parties.
This followed yesterday’s amendment of the the Electoral Act 2022 recently signed by President Muhammadu by the Senate.
This is even as the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday concluded the sale of forms to its aspirants jostling for elective offices in the 2023 presidential poll.
Statutory Delegates to Congresses and conventions of political parties are elected councillors in all the over 8,000 wards across the country, elected chairmen and vice chairmen of the 774 local government areas , elected members of the State Houses of Assembly, elected federal lawmakers in the National Assembly, governors of the 36 States and their deputies , president and vice president of the country and executives of political parties at the state and federal level as well as Chairmen of parties at the local government levels .
Moving for the amendment through a bill sponsored to that effect by the deputy president of the Senate , Senator Ovie Omo – Agege , the Senate said the unintended error committed by the omission must be corrected before the start of party primaries next week .
In the bill titled, ” A Bill for an Act to Amend the 2022 Electoral Act no 13 and for other related matters ” , Omo-Agege said section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 does not provide for the participation of what is generally known as statutory delegates in the conventions , congresses or meetings of political parties held to nominate candidates for general elections .
According to him, ” the extant subsection only clearly provides for the participation of elected delegates in the conventions , congresses or meetings of political parties held for nomination of candidates for general elections.
“This is an unintended error that must be corrected and we can only correct it with this amendment which will further strengthen our electoral system “, he stressed .
The Senate, accordingly, gave the bill expeditious consideration and passage in a session , read it for second and third reading.
In his remarks after the passage of the amendment bill, the president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the piece of legislation will also be passed by the House of Representatives this week and transmitted to the president for assent before commencement of party primaries next week .
“It is good that clause 84 (8) of the electoral Act 2022 has been amended in the Senate today and will be followed by the House of Representatives tomorrow for required concurrence and transmission to the presidency for assent.
“This is very important to enable every statutory delegate to participate in the coming primary elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has, for the third time within two weeks, summoned another emergency plenary.
The agenda of the emergency plenary which will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) is to amended a fundamental error in the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.
A statement by the clerk of the House, Dr Yahaya Danzaria, noted: “This is to inform all Hon Members, staff, media and the general public that the House hereby reconvenes for an emergency plenary session against tomorrow, Wednesday, 11th May, 2022 at 11:00am.
“This session has become necessary especially as to amend a fundamental error in the Electoral Act. The House regrets this short notice and implores all Members to be present.”
INEC, IPAC Disagree Over Extension Of Party Primaries By 2 Months
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reiterated its stance against reviewing the timeline for party primaries, saying if altered it would ultimately result in more complications than what the extension seeks to achieve.
But the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) said the general assembly of the council, after an exhaustive examination of the INEC timetable and related issues, arrived at a unanimous decision to request an extension of 37 days to the deadline of the time frame for the conduct of party primaries, and resolution of conflicts arising from the primaries, which means moving the INEC given date of June 3, 2022 to August 4, 2022.
The chairman of the nation’s electoral body, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed the stance of the commission yesterday in Abuja at the second quarterly consultative meeting with political parties, said there are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out.
Yakubu said any review to extend the timeline for one activity will affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the commission.
“Therefore, the commission will not review the timelines. Working together, we should ensure fidelity to the timelines in conducting transparent and democratic primaries for the purpose of electing candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be held on 25th February and 11th March 2023,” Yakubu said.
The helmsman of the commission said all 18 political parties have forwarded the schedules of their primaries to the commission and some have commenced the process of choosing their candidates by conducting ward and local government congresses.
He maintained that the period earmarked for the conduct of primaries by political parties commenced on April 4, 2022 and will end on June 3, 2022, hence the commission had deemed it necessary to remind political parties of the necessity for strict compliance with the timelines for party primaries.
He noted that in the spirit of working together to comply with the requirements of law, the commission has prepared a document to guide political parties in the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates for election, including a checklist of the documentation required for a successful nomination
The INEC chairman reminded party leaders of their commitment to promoting inclusivity in the electoral process.
Yakubu also urged political parties to ensure a transparent electioneering process free of acrimony and rancour as they prepare for the primaries so as to limit the number of litigations by aggrieved party members.
On his part, the national chairman of IPAC, Engr Yusuf Sani, said the General Assembly of IPAC, said all the 18 registered political parties are requesting the slight adjustment to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections to further enhance the efficiency of the electoral process.
He reassured that IPAC will remain unwavering and faithful to INEC towards the actualisation of the shared statutory and historic responsibility of deepening the roots of democracy in Nigeria.
He listed the Christian Lenten season and the Muslim fasting in the month of Ramadan respectively, followed by the celebrations of Easter and Eid el Fitr (Sallah) in which majority of party members were involved as some of the issues considered by the IPAC General Assembly which necessitated the call for extension in the timeframe of the present INEC timetable and schedule of activities.
CSOs Insist On Resignation Of Appointees
Meanwhile, civil society organisations ((CSOs) in the country have called for the immediate sack and investigation of all ministers and political appointees that have bought forms to contest elections without resignation in contradiction of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.
The CSOs are Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) and 29 others.
The new Electoral Act in section 84 (12) provides that anyone holding a political office – ministers, commissioners, special advisers and others – must relinquish the position before they can be eligible to participate in the electoral process either as a candidate or as a delegate.
Leaders of the CSOs, however, stressed the need for those holding elective and appointive public offices to dedicate the remaining period in office to repairing the terrible image of the current administration by genuinely working for Nigerians.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the executive director of CISLAC, Musa Rafsanjani, stressed the need to fix the numerous challenges facing the economy and make democracy work for the people other than the less than 1 per cent ruling class that has cornered 90 per cent of the country’s resources.
“We hope this is not a tall order. But the ball is in the court of the President, Governors, and others in positions of authority. Whatever they decide to do, Nigerians will not forget their legacy soon.
“This shameful act puts the final lid on any hope of participation for young Nigerians,” he said.
Rafsajani said the current happening in the nation’s political space announces the displacement of democracy in the country by plutocracy and seals the door finally against any window for rigorous intellectual input into governance and policymaking in Nigeria.
“This action has paved way for increase in money politics and created room for unbridled political corruption,” he said.
He added that the current administration still has a chance to salvage its battered image.
Also yesterday, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and civil society groups under the aegis of Coalition of National Civil Society Organizations (CNCSOs) told President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele from office.
Chief Willy Ezugwu, convener and CNPP secretary general and Alhaji Ali Abacha, national secretary for CSOs made the demand yesterday, during a press briefing in Abuja.
The groups said their demand was predicated on the eventual purchase of APC presidential nomination forms and the court case by Emefiele while still in office.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack Mr. Godwin Emefiele as the CBN Governor over gross misconduct in line with the Public Service Rules and CBN Act for registering as a member of APC since 2019.
“We demand that President Buhari act swiftly to restore the confidence of international investors in Nigeria’s economy as Godwin Emefiele is clearly a politician and former banker” the groups demanded.
CNPP and the allied civil society groups therefore condemned in totality the legal action by Emefiele, wherein he is praying a Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain the INEC and the attorney-general of the federation from disqualifying him from contesting the 2023 presidential election.
The groups maintained that the action of the CBN boss clearly painted him “as one that cannot be trusted, having denied having interest in the 2023 presidential election and distancing himself from the APC presidential nomination forms purchased in his name, making him unfit to remain in office as CBN Governor.
“His stay in office, even if he fails to contest the presidential election will certainly cast doubts on Nigeria’s electoral outcomes in view of the sensitive electoral materials that are traditionally kept in custody of CBN which now has a partisan Governor”, they added.
Moghalu Picks ADC Nomination Forms
Meanwhile, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, yesterday picked the presidential expression of interest and nomination form of the African Democratic Congress in Abuja.
“I purchased the form myself, opting against the usual fake purchases on behalf of aspirants by shadowy groups,” Moghalu said in a post on Twitter
“I did so because Nigerians are worthy of this sacrifice,” he added.
Speaking shortly after picking up the form, Moghalu promised to invest heavily in the education sector by allocating, to the sector, 20 percent of the nation’s budget.
He noted that investing in education can help curb the challenges of insecurity and youth unemployment in the country.
He promised that the incessant strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities would be confined to history once he emerges president.
He further noted that the current inflation rate in the country will be tackled by his administration in order to create a conducive business environment.