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Electoral Act: Buhari asks NASS to delete section barring political appointees from contesting elections

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to delete the section of the Electoral Act, which bars political appointees from electoral contest.

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to delete the section of the Electoral Act, which bars political appointees from electoral contest.

Buhari made the demand while signing the bill at the presidential villa in Abuja on Friday.

Hours before he signed the bill, Daily Trust had reported how Buhari and his close aides were in a dilemma over the fate of his political appointees who may resign in droves when the bill becomes law.

Section 84 (12) of the bill makes it mandatory for political appointees who want to run for office in 2023 to resign.

Daily Trust gathered that the appointees in this category did not want to resign because it is not certain that they will get back their positions if they lose the primary elections.

At least four ministers and a number of personalities heading Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) may be affected by this development.

Among them are Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation; Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity; and Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and housing.

While signing the bill into law, Buhari said section 84(12) of the act contravenes the rights of political office holders to vote, or be voted for in political party conventions and congresses.

“Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, from the review it is my perspective that the substance of the Bill is both reformative and progressive. I am making this bold declaration because I foresee the great potentials of the Bill. Worthy of note include the democratic efficacy of the Bill with particular reference to sections 3, 9(2), 34, 41, 47, 84(9), (10) and (11) among others.”

“This, however, cannot be said about one provision as contained in the proposed Bill, which provision constitutes fundamental defect, as it is in conflict with extant constitutional provisions. Section 84 (12) constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at Conventions or Congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the National Election.

“The practical application of section 84(12) of the Electoral Bill, 2022 will, if assented to, by operation of law, subject serving political office holders to inhibitions and restrictions referred to under section 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 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 Nationally Assembly consider immediate amendments that will bring the Bill in tune with constitutionality by way of deleting section 84(12) accordingly.’’

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

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