By Miftaudeen Raji
Against the backdrop of delayed assent to the amended Electoral Act by President Muhammadu Buhari, a legal practitioner, Fisayo Olusegun has established that it is imperative for the President to give clear feedback to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on what version of the Electoral Act should guide what INEC needs to do.
Olusegun, who stated that it is very easy for the matter to end up in court, noted that Buhari needs to give feedback, particularly on Section 84 (8) in order to avoid throwing political parties into chaos.
He said, “The caution we are presenting to the President is that whatever he does must do it with a sense of posterity. Every step everybody takes can be contested in court.
“If the President doesn’t give a definitive assent to that Bill, it throws everything into chaos. Nobody is able to know what timelines within which to do what, because there are specific timelines before the date of elections.”
Asked if it is advisable for INEC to extend deadlines for primaries, he said it would be very appropriate and tidy for INEC to have definitive feedback on what amendment of the Electoral Act is working wholesomely.
He said, “The question is what does INEC do and if INEC chooses to change the timelines on what power will it be said to take those timelines when obviously there is an amendment in the process? Those are part of the questions.
“For me, it’s a test for INEC, but also the burden on them is that this would also be subsequently tested. The pressure will go back to the president to ensure that this is done on time. A lot hands-on that decision,” he added.
Olusegun, who wondered if the delay was another ploy to foist on Nigerians, described Buhari’s hesitation as confusing.
He added, “Whether we like it or not INEC will be forced to make a decision. They can’t just sit on the fence. They will make a decision, either to rely on the existing Electoral Act, and that will cause a lot of uncertainties because the President has demonstrated and said many times that he wants to leave an electoral process better than what he met.”
Vanguard recalls that the Senate and the House, had earlier passed an amendment to the Act to recognize statutory delegates at primaries, congresses and conventions of political parties, but Buhari has delayed assent to the amendment.
The lawmakers specifically amended Section 84(8) of the Act to provide for automatic or statutory delegates, ahead of the forthcoming party primaries, which will determine candidates for the 2023 general elections.