Senate bars ministers, others from voting at party congresses, primaries

From Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

Senate has amended the Electoral Act, 2022, to giving room for ‘statutory delegates’ (all those elected), to participate and vote in conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties.

The move has again, shut out ministers, commissioners and others appointees in the amendment.

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The action of the Senate followed the expeditious consideration of a bill during plenary which scaled first, second and third readings, respectively, and was passed during plenary by the chamber 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, National Working Committee of political parties, amongst others. 

Th bill to amend the 2022 Electoral Act No. 13 was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.

Omo-Agege, in his presentation, said the bill seeks to amend the provision of section 84(8) of the Electoral Act.

According to him, the provisions 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.”

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“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.”

Speaking after the bill to amend the 2022 Electoral Act was passed, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks, said that the amendment became imperative in view of the deficiency created by the provision of section 84(8) of the extant Act.

He said: “The amended Electoral Act of 2022 that we passed this year, has 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 starts in the next eight days. This is an emergency legislation, so to speak.

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“Our expectation is that the National Assembly – the two chambers – would finish with the processing of the amendment of this bill, between today (in the Senate) and tomorrow (in the House of Representatives), and then the Executive will do the assent.

“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 Council 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.”

In a related development, the House of Representatives would hold an emergency session today to correct a fundamental error in the Electoral Act, 2022.

A statement by the Clerk Yahaya Danzaria, implored lawmakers, who are currently on break to prepare for their political parties’ primaries, to endeavours to attend today emergency session.

Danzaria said” this session has become necessary especially as to amend a fundamental error in the Electoral Act.”

Daily Sun gathered that “fundamental error”  is on Section 84(8)  of the Electoral Act, which deals with delegates to political parties primaries. The section failed to capture statutory delegates to political parties congresses and convention for the purpose of nominating their candidates for elections.

Consequently, at today’s session, the House is expected an amendment to Section

84(8) of the Electoral Act, as well as passed give an expedited passage, ahead of the commencement of political parties primaries by the 2023 general elections.

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