Former President Goodluck Jonathan has recommended the removal of section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 to give political parties the leverage to decide modalities for elections.
 
He stated this during the public presentation of a book titled “Political Party Governance” authored by former Minister of State Power, Mohammed Wakil, on Thursday.

Goodluck Jonathan

Jonathan urged the National Assembly to allow political parties to meet individual needs as their needs were different.
 
“Give parties the leverage. The key thing is that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is regulating them.
 
“They mentor them, and the system they will adopt in selecting their candidates must be documented in their constitution and copies deposited with INEC. That is what will be used to judge that party.
 
“Parties are not parastatals of government and the National Assembly cannot make laws that choke the political parties. That is my take on this controversial issue,” he said.
 
He further condemned the ongoing primaries, adding that it was a shame that delegates were being induced for votes to the extent that aspirants even asked for a refund after failing to secure tickets.
 
He described the party primaries as a failed process, saying only elected delegates are allowed to elect candidates.
 
He said, “The National Assembly made alterations to the Electoral Law, and now only what they call the `elected delegates’ are to elect people that would vote. Then one day Nigerians will go to the polls and think they are voting a president.
 
“But who presented presidential candidates for you? Very few people at the national level, at the state level, at the local districts, at the federal and state constituencies.”
 
Jonathan cited a Federal Constituency in Bayelsa State with only two wards and just only six delegates that elected PDP candidates because every ward had three elected delegates.
 
Jonathan said the situation was even more worrisome when the delegates were unknown figures in society.
 
“We have former governors, former deputy governors, former Senators and all the rest. But then, we have only one elected delegate that you don’t know where he is coming from.
 
“A delegate that will come to Abuja to select who becomes the presidential candidate. Is that the kind of democracy we will practice?
 
“But those of us who have been involved know that it is terrible. Are we bringing those who really know who is who to elect these delegates or those delegates that can be bought over with money?” he asked.
 
Jonathan decried the situation where those contesting openly shared money and gifts, saying such actions should be criminalised.
 
“In some countries, you cannot give a gift like what we normally do here; we give bags of rice with photographs of candidates and other tangibles.
 
“We distribute them freely. That is a criminal offence and we expect the National Assembly to make laws to criminalise that,” he said.
 
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari should not be blamed for delaying assent to that amended section of the bill.
 
Jonathan noted that there are lots of processes a bill must pass through before the President could sign.
 
He said the document is supposed to go through a drafting process in the National Assembly with all their committees and joint committees.
 
The former president added that when the draft was ready, the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as executive aides, would take a look at it.
 
“That is the bureaucracy so that the President does not make mistakes.
 
“So, nobody should expect the President to wake up and just sign. It must go through a process.
 
“People must do their work in this country; you cannot just be taking money and be sleeping. This is a wake-up call to the National Assembly,” Jonathan added.
 
Background
There had been debates over section 84(12) of the new Electoral Act.
 
Buhari while signing the amended bill into law on February 25 had urged the parliament to expunge Clause 84(12) of the Act.
 
The clause reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
 
On March 8, 2022, the President officially wrote the Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker to express his concerns about section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act and formally requested for an amendment to be effected on the section so as to eliminate areas of infarction with the Constitution.
 
However, the National Assembly and the major opposition party contended this.
 
Subsequently, Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami dragged the National Assembly before the Supreme Court over Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022.
 
Buhari and Malami had in the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, asked the court to remove the clause in the electoral act.
 
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgment in the suit filed by President Buhari and Malami to void the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
 
The court will announce a date to the parties involved.
 
The law bars political appointees like Malami from seeking elective public office or voting as delegates in a party primary unless they resign their positions.
 
Malami was seeking to contest for the Kebbi State governorship and had collected the nomination and expression of interest forms of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
 
Buhari and Malami had in the suit asked the court to remove the clause in the electoral act.
 
The duo told the apex court that the Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.
 
They are seeking an order of the court to strike out the section of the Act, which they said was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.

Buhari while signing the amended bill into law on February 25 had urged the parliament to expunge Clause 84(12) of the Act.
 
The clause reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
 
In March, both chambers of the National Assembly rejected the President’s request to amend the clause in the electoral act.
 
Subsequently, the Attorney-General boasted that the Nigerian government would consider all other options available before taking a position on the matter.
 
The duo added that the Nigerian constitution already provides qualification and disqualification for the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor, Senate and House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Ministers, Commissioners and Special Advisers.
 
Like Malami, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, was also seeking to contest for an elective office, in his case, the office of the Nigerian President, while still in office as the governor of the apex bank.

You may also like

Read Next

Trending Now