Electoral Act: CSOs kick over mounting pressure on NASS to delete Section 84 (10)

Some Civil Society Organisations, (CSOs) in Nigeria have expressed their alarm over the mounting political pressure on the National Assembly to undo some of the progressive elements of the Amended Electoral Bill, specifically the section preventing political appointees from participating in the party candidate nomination process, either as aspirants or delegates.

Recall that Section 84 (10) of the Amended Electoral Act ruled out political appointees from taking part in partisan contests as a voting delegate or aspirant with a provision that read: ‘No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention of Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.

While announcing his assent to the Act on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari raised objections to the section and urged a reversal. However, the CSOs are claiming that the President’s objection was informed by persistent lobbying on the part of affected appointees, who they claim are following the President’s complaints with renewed efforts to force through the deletion of the section by the National Assembly.

The CSOs said they consider the section an important addition to the Amended Electoral Act, because, according to them, it will halt the undemocratic practice of political appointees who abuse the privileges of their positions to manipulate the election process of political parties and secure an unfair advantage using the paraphernalia of state.

One of them, the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa said: “Political ambitions are of course a guaranteed right in every democracy but it is in the spirit of fairness that all candidates in a contest are offered a level playing ground, with no one enjoying a built-in advantage”.

In an issued statement signed by the group’s Director of Research and Strategy, Dr. Ikponmwonsa Edosanwan said, “The reality of Nigeria’s politics is that political appointees, by the virtue of their offices and proximity to power, exploit and abuse state agencies to achieve their personal political goals through the hijack, blackmail, and inducement of party organs with various acts of illegal intimidation and ‘quid pro quo’ to enjoy a clear advantage in the contest”.

The group urged the National Assembly not to bow to pressure from the political appointees, saying that the section not only improves the voting process but would have a palpable impact on governance.

“The CBN was designed to function in a non-partisan way because of its grave importance to the country’s survival. When its leadership starts to flirt with politics in such a blatant way, there has to be a way to enforce the ethical and responsible thing, which is why that section of the Amended Electoral Act is doubly important and must be left untouched”, they further stated.

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