Primaries: Parties Uncertain Over Delegates’ List As Buhari Delays Signing Amended Electoral Act

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There is growing uncertainty over the delegates’ list to be used by political parties in the country, including the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), days ahead of their respective primary elections.

This is even as President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to assent to the amended Electoral Act recently transmitted to him by the National Assembly.

The New Diplomat reports that the National Assembly, last week passed the amendment of the Electoral Act 2022, to allow all statutory delegates to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties.

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In the version of the Electoral Act assented to by Buhari, statutory delegates were barred from voting during party primaries.

Section 84(8) initially read, ‘A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.

But the parliament amended the section by adding “…in addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the constitution of the party in the amendment.”

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Statutory delegates are councillors, local government chairmen and their deputies, and political party chairmen in all the 774 local government areas.

They also included state and federal legislators, governors and their deputies, and president and vice-president.

With almost two weeks to the primaries, parties in the country are not certain whether or not statutory delegates will vote with the President’s delay in signing the amended Electoral Act.

Reacting to the development, the House of Representatives Minority Caucus, on Thursday called on Buhari to immediately sign the one-item amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 to avert an imminent political crisis in Nigeria.

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This was contained in a statement issued by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu.

According to the caucus, the continued delay of Buhari in signing the amended bill can throw the country into serious confusion and as well threaten the conduct of the 2023 general election.

The statement partly read, “As representatives of the people, the Minority Caucus urges Mr President to avert an imminent political crisis which has the capacity of exacerbating the security situation in the country by immediately signing the Amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 and leave a legacy of a credible electoral process to the nation.

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“Our caucus calls on all Nigerians, the Civil Society, the International Community and all lovers of democracy to prevail on President Buhari to immediately sign the amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 and save our nation from an avoidable crisis.”

In his reaction, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, has also appealed to Buhari to immediately do the needful in order to avert a crisis.

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Ado-Doguwa made this appeal while speaking during an interview session with PUNCH. He noted that the lawmakers amended Section 84(8) of the Act for good reasons urging the President to sign the amended act into law to avoid delay and the consequences for the forthcoming party primaries.

“I am sure the President, as a faithful Democrat, would not undermine constitutional democracy. What we did in the said amendment was to address a perceived lacuna to also cure in our electoral legal framework.

“I am aware the amended clause has been transmitted for Mr President for his assent. I am optimistic that Mr President would assent to it without hesitation whatsoever. It’s an amendment that was well-intended and meant well for the smooth selection of candidates in the various political parties.

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“Any legislation transmitted by NASS to Mr President for assent takes 30 calendar days before counteraction can be contemplated by the parliament. It’s my hope that Mr President would do the needful before it gets out of hand,” the majority leader was quoted as saying.

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