THE Senate has amended the Electoral Act 2022 to allow statutory delegates to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties.
The bill for the amendment, which passed the first, second and third readings at plenary on Tuesday, was sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege.
Statutory delegates in political parties include the President, Vice President, members of the National Assembly, governors and their deputies, members of the state houses of assembly, chairmen of councils, councillors, members of the national working committee, amongst others.
In his lead debate Omo-Agege noted that the amendment was necessary because 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 section 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 added.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the amendment was necessitated by a deficiency created by the provisions of Section 84(8) of the extant Act.
“The amended Electoral Act of 2022 that we passed this year has a deficiency that was never intended and that deficiency will deny all statutory delegates in all political parties from participation in congresses and conventions
“And, therefore, such a major and unintended clause has to be amended before the party primaries starts in the next eight days. This is an emergency legislation, so to speak.”
He noted the Senate conveyed the emergency sitting to ensure that statutory delegates who should participate at party primaries are not disenfranchised.
He expressed hope that both chambers of the National Assembly would conclude legislative work on the amendment before Wednesday so that it could be signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.