By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—AHEAD of primaries by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other political parties to elect their candidates for the 2023 general elections, the Senate has hurriedly amended the recently passed 2022 Electoral Act to allow statutory delegates participate in the process.
The statutory delegates include president, governors, National and State Assembly members, local government chairmen and councillors.
The APC has fixed its presidential primaries for May 30, 31 and June 1, while PDP has also fixed its presidential primaries for May 28.
Consequently, the Senate, yesterday, amended Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act 2022, which would give room for statutory delegates to participate in political parties’ congresses and conventions.
The current version, which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in February this year, prevents statutory delegates from taking part in party primaries.
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 councils, elected members of state Houses of Assembly, elected federal lawmakers in the National Assembly, and governors of the 36 states and their deputies.
Others include the President and Vice President of the country and executives of political parties at the state and federal levels as well as chairmen of parties at the local government level.
The amendment, yesterday, was sequel to a bill sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), as the upper chamber said the unintended error committed by the omission must be corrected before the start of party primaries next week.
The Senate, accordingly, gave the bill expeditious consideration and passage in a session, read it for second reading and third time.
In his presentation, Omo-Agege specifically, in the bill entitled: “A bill for an act to amend the 2022 Electoral Act no 13 and for other related matters,” said section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 does not provide for the participation of what was generally known as statutory delegates in conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties held to nominate candidates for general elections.
The bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to make provision for delegates who, not being elected delegates, as prescribed in the constitution of a political party to participate in convention, congress or meeting of the party.
Omo- Agege said: “It is my profound pleasure to have the privilege of leading the debate on this very important Bill which seeks to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to make provision for delegates who, not being elected delegates, as prescribed in the constitution of a political party to participate in the convention, congress or meeting of the party.
“The bill was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate today (yesterday). Mr. President, colleagues, the issue here is narrow and straightforward.”
In his remarks after the passage of the amendment bill, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the piece of legislation would also be passed by the House of Representatives this week and transmitted to the President for assent before commencement of party primaries next week.
Lawan said: “It is good that clause 84 ( 8) of the Electoral Act 2022 has been amended in the Senate today (yesterday) and will be followed by the House of Representatives tomorrow (today) for required concurrence and transmission to Presidency for assent. This is very important to enable every statutory delegate participate in the coming primary elections.”