To begin with, ordinarily a “law” should not be “targeted” at an “individual”, but should be made for general application. Barring any last minute changes “statutory” delegates will not vote in the primary elections of all political parties.
The 2023 power play is largely being through the Electoral Act Amended Bill. Those who strategically positioned themselves from the executive branch of government to decide who takes over power come 2023 are being challenged by those who are far way from the executive branch of government through the legislative arm of government.
The politics began in the first place by “inserting” direct political parties’ primary elections as the only “option” for electing flag bearers of political parties in order to neutralise the executive. In the first transmission of the bill to the president he “withheld” his “Assent” to the bill in November 2021, citing the cost of conducting direct primary elections, security challenges, and possible manipulation of the electoral process by political players as part of the reasons for his decision. The NASS had earlier on contemplated overriding Mr president , but later opted to re-work the bill.
The legislature in what looks like a change of “strategy” on the power struggle deleted the “Direct primaries Clause” but only to replace it with a more controversial Clause 84 (12) which barred political appointees from contesting in primary elections. Upon the transmission of the re-worked Electoral Act 2022, the president drew the attention of NASS on Clause 84 (12) which he argued, is in conflict with sections 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as amended because it contravenes the rights of political office holders to vote, or be voted for in political party conventions and congresses as provided by the 1999 constitution.
In the end the leadership of NASS agreed to “delete” the said Clause as soon as the president signs the bill into law. Having signed the bill, Into law and in what looks like a “twist” the NASS rejected the “request” to “delete” the said Clause which infringes on the constitutional rights of political appointees citing the amendment being too close to the general elections.
In continuation of the power struggle, the executive arm secured a Court judgement that gave it the powers to “delete” the said Clause 84(12) from the New Electoral Act 2022. However, the legislature appealed the said judgement where the Appeal Court “vacated” the lower Court’s judgement citing lack of jurisdiction by the lower Court on the matter and thereafter referred the parties to the Supreme Court.
In another twist the NASS which refused to amend 84(12) of the Act citing lack of adequate time re-amended section 84(8) of New Electoral Act. The lawmakers particularly amended the Act to provide for statutory delegates which the signed law barrred from being delegates in primaries and national convention, ahead of the 2023 general elections. By virtue of Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act, 2022, delegates to vote at the Indirect Primaries and National Convention of political parties to elect candidates for elections shall be those democratically elected for that purpose only.
Statutory delegates form the largest number of voters at party primaries at state level and conventions at the national level. They include: President and Vice President, former Presidents and vice presidents who are still members of the party; serving members of the National Assembly and former principal officers serving and former elected state governors and deputy governors; National Chairman of the party and members of the National Executive Committee (NEC). Governorship candidates and their running mates who are automatic delegates.The rest include members of State Assemblies and former presiding officers of state Assemblies; serving and former members of the Board of Trustees (BoT); elected members of zonal committees, all National Assembly candidates; party chairmen of local government areas; all elected local government chairmen; former members of the National Working Committee; and one physically challenged person per state and the FCT nominated by the state caucus.
The president was supposed to have signed the new amendment alongside the NHIS amended Act before he travelled to UAE last Thursday, but left it out. Will the executive makes it a “Tit for Tat” by refusing to sign the new Electoral Act? Going by the present Electoral Act 2022 as amended “Statutory Deletes” who are the major stakeholders in the polity will not vote in primaries as well as national conventions of their political parties.
One wonders how come statutory delegates were omitted in the previous amended Electoral Act perhaps due to the high wire politics attached to the 2022 Electoral Act Amendment.There are now only 11 days room for manoueuvre going by the INEC’s guidelines which states seven days submition of delegates lists to INEC before primaries and the June 3, 2022 dateline for conclusion of all primaries.
In conclusion, If the president withholds his Assent on the new amendment the APC’s presidential aspirant will be determined by 2,340 ad hoc delegates made up of three from each of the 774 local government areas in the country and the six area councils in Abuja as against the earlier projected 7,500 delegates while that of the opposition PDP will be determined by 780 ad hoc delegates one from each of the 774 LGs plus the six area councils as against the projected 3,700 delegates.
In my observation, if the present law stands state governors who largely control the ad-hoc delegates will essentially determine the flag bearers of the major parties.
May God bless Nigeria!