Presidential Primaries: Buhari’s Delay Creates Uncertainty Over APC, PDP Delegates Lists
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There is uncertainty over the delegates’ lists of political parties, including the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party, following the delay by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in signing the amendment version of the Electoral Act.
Chieftains of the major political parties, who spoke on Thursday, said the President’s assent to the amended Act would enable parties to know the exact number of delegates that would vote during presidential primaries as statutory delegates were excluded in the existing version of the law.
The PDP has scheduled its presidential primary to hold on May 28 and 29, while the APC will elect its presidential candidate at its shadow election taking place on May 28 and 29.
Almost two weeks to the primaries, the parties are not certain whether or not statutory delegates will vote with the President’s delay in signing the amended Electoral Act.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had on Wednesday passed the amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates as voters during primaries, congresses and conventions of political parties.
The National Assembly after passing the amendment said it expected the executive to sign it last week without delay.
Before the amendment, the section did not provide for statutory delegates, including elected councillors, local government chairmen and their deputies, party chairmen in local government areas and six Abuja area councils, state and federal lawmakers, governors and their deputies, President and Vice- President, National Working Committee members, state party chairmen and secretaries, as voters at the primaries.
Section 84(8) initially read, ‘A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.
But the parliament amended the section by adding “…in addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the constitution of the party in the amendment.”
During the plenary, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, described the amendment as emergency legislation and the omission of statutory delegates as a fundamental error.
He stated, “The National Assembly will finish with the processing of this amendment on this Bill between today in the Senate and tomorrow in the House of Representatives, and then the Executive will do the assent within the week.”
But on Thursday, there was concern about the President’s delay in signing the amended Electoral Act one week after it was transmitted to him.
The President failed to sign the amendment of the Act. Instead, he signed only the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2022 into law and immediately travelled to the United Arab Emirates. He, however, said nothing about the electoral bill which he has less than 10 days to sign going by the APC’s timetable.