The Senate on Tuesday altered the Electoral Act and provided for the participation of statutory delegates in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties in Nigeria.
The expeditious consideration followed the suspension of relevant Senate Rules to pave the way for the first, second and third readings of the bill same day.
Titled, “A bill for an Act to Amend the 2022 Electoral Act No. 13 and for other Related Matters, 2022 (SB 1002),” the proposed legislation was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central).
Statutory delegates include the President, Vice President, National and State Assembly members, Governors and their deputies, Chairmen of Councils, Councillors, National Working Committee of political parties, Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of political parties amongst others.
In his lead debate, Senator Omo-Agege said the amendment became necessary to correct an ‘unintended error’ in the Electoral Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari early this year.
This, he noted, would ensure the participation of both statutory and elected delegates in the conventions, congresses of political parties.
“As couched, Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 does not provide for the participation of what is generally known as ‘statutory delegates’ in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties.
“The extant subsection 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”, he said.
Seconding the motion, Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra Central) said the amendment would ensure that statutory delegates were not disenfranchised in the primaries of political parties to elect candidates for the 2023 General Election.
After the first and second readings of the Bill, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North), moved for the suspension of Rule 80 (1) of the Senate State Order to allow for the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill by Committee of the Whole.
Speaking after the approval, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the session, explained that the move was an “emergency effort to ensure” that statutory delegates were not disenfranchised in the forthcoming primaries of political parties.
He said after the processes are concluded in both chambers of the National Assembly, tbilBill would be transmitted to the Executive for assent within the week.