Senate amends Electoral Act to allow President, NASS members, Govs, others vote at congresses, primaries

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The Senate amended the Electoral Act of 2022 on Tuesday to allow statutory delegates to attend political party congresses and conventions.

During plenary on Tuesday, the Senate amended the clause after considering a bill sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege titled “A Bill for an Act to amend the and for matters connected thereto, 2022.”

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“The issue here is narrow and straightforward,” Omo-Agege said in his opening debate. Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act of 2022, as written, does not allow for the participation of so-called “statutory delegates” in political party conventions, congresses, or meetings.

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“The existing subsection only clearly provides for the participation of elected delegates in political party nomination conventions, congresses, or meetings.” This was an unintended error, and the only way to fix it now is with this amendment.”

The amendment will allow statutory delegates, in addition to delegates elected by political parties, to vote for candidates for various political offices during congresses and conventions.

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Councillors, local chairmen and vice chairmen, political party chairmen in all 774 LGAs, State and Federal lawmakers, Governors and their deputies, President and Vice President, political parties’ National Working Committee (NWC) members, state party chairmen and secretaries are among the statutory delegates who can now participate in political party conventions and congresses as a result of the new amendment.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan stated after the bill to amend the 2022 Electoral Act was passed that the amendment was necessary due to the deficiency created by section 84(8) of the existing Act.

“The amended Electoral Act of 2022 that we passed this year has a flaw that was never intended, and that flaw will prevent all statutory delegates from participating in congresses and conventions,” he said.

“As a result, such a significant and unintended clause must be amended before the party primaries begin in eight days. This is, in a sense, emergency legislation.

“We expect the National Assembly – both chambers – to complete the processing of this bill’s amendment between today (in the Senate) and tomorrow (in the House of Representatives), and then the Executive will issue the assent.”

“It’s critical to allow every statutory delegate to participate in the party primaries from the start, which will begin on May 18, 2022.”

“As a result, this is an emergency effort to ensure that no one is denied their rightful opportunity to serve as a delegate, particularly statutory delegates, who are elected.”

“The President, Vice President, Members of the National Assembly, Governors, Members of the State Houses of Assembly, Chairmen of Council and their Councillors, Members of the National Working Committee of all political parties, and so on.”

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

He added that the House of Representatives would vote on the same amendment on Wednesday before sending it to the President for assent the following week.

He stated that the amendment was necessary to ensure that no one’s rights are violated during political party activities.

The current version of the Electoral Act, which President Muhammadu Buhari signed in February, prohibits statutory delegates from participating in party primaries.

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“Section 84 of the Principal Act is amended by deleting the existing subsection (8) and inserting a new subsection (8) after subsection (7) as follows:” according to the bill. “(8) A political party that uses an indirect primary system to choose its candidates must clearly outline the procedure for democratically electing delegates to vote at the convention, congress, or meeting, in addition to the Statutory delegates already specified in the party’s constitution.”

“This Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to make provision for delegates who are not elected delegates as prescribed in the constitution of a political party to participate in the party’s convention, congress, or meeting,” according to the bill’s explanatory memorandum.

The bill introduced on Tuesday was quickly considered in plenary, receiving first, second, and third readings before being approved by the Committee of the Whole.

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