Electoral Act: Lawmakers to consult Nigerians, other stakeholders on section barring ministers, others from contesting for positions

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that following his assent to the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill 2022, with the introduction of new technology and efforts to engender clarity and transparency, it holds a lot of promise for improving the electoral processes in the country.

Recall that the President signed the Bill into law on Friday, during a ceremony at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President suggested tinkering with Section 84(2), which he expressed dissatisfaction with, as he noted that it contravenes the rights of political office holders to vote and be voted for in political party conventions and congresses.

Against the backdrop of the request of the president, the leadership of the House of Representatives said it was planning to consult with Nigerians relevant stakeholders, including CSOs and the organised labour, on the section which bars ministers and other political officeholders from contesting posts at party’s congresses and conventions.

The chairman of House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, who disclosed the House’s position in a chat with newsmen, however, dismissed insinuations that the provisions of the Electoral Act were geared towards disenfranchising political officeholders.

The signing of the Bill followed pressure from sections of the country with the delay leading to open protests by members of the civil society organisations (CSOs).

He added: “The practical application of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Bill 2022 will, if assented to, by operation of law, subject serving political officeholders to inhibitions and restrictions referred to under sections 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“It is imperative to note that the only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify, by extension as public officers within the context of the constitution, is resignation, withdrawal, or retirement at least 30 days before the date of the election.

“Hence, it will be stretching things beyond the constitutional limit to import extraneous restriction into the constitution on account of the practical application of section 84(12) of the Bill where political parties’ conventions and congresses were to hold earlier than 30 days to the election.

“Arising from the foregoing, with particular regards to the benefits of the Bill, industry, time, resources and energy committed in its passage, I hereby assent to the Bill and request the National Assembly to consider immediate amendments that will bring the Bill in tune with constitutionality by way of deleting section 84(12) accordingly”, he affirmed.

The President commended the National Assembly for its commitment and dedication to improving the previous Electoral Bill 2021.

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