Senate amends Electoral Act to allow president, govs, others vote at parties’ primaries

The Senate on Tuesday revised the Electoral Act 2022 to allow ‘statutory delegates,’ or elected officials, to attend and vote in political party conventions, congresses, and meetings.

This came after the quick deliberation of a bill in plenary, which had first, second, and third readings and was passed by the house following consideration by the Committee of the Whole.

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 the National Working Committee of political parties are among those listed as statutory delegates.

Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President, sponsored the measure to alter the Electoral Act No. 13 for 2022.

In his presentation, Omo-Agege stated that the bill aims to alter section 84(8) of the Electoral Act.

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

“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 to alter the 2022 Electoral Act was enacted, Senate President Ahmad Lawan stated that the revision was necessary due to the inadequacy established by Section 84(8) of the existing 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 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 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.”

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