Electoral Act: CSOs kick as pressure mounts on NASS to delete section barring political appointees from seeking party nomination

Electoral Act: CSOs kick as pressure mounts on NASS to delete section barring political appointees from seeking party nomination

Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria are raising alarm over mounting political pressure on the National Assembly to undo some of the progressive elements of the Amended Electoral Bill, specifically the section preventing political appointees from participating in the party candidate nomination process, either as aspirants or delegates.

Section 84(10) of the Amended Electoral Act ruled out political appointees from taking part in partisan contests as a voting delegate or aspirant with a provision that read: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention of Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

While announcing his assent to the Act on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari raised objections to the section and urged a reversal. But CSOs are claiming that the President’s objection was informed by persistent lobbying on the part of affected appointees who they claim are following the President’s complaints with renewed efforts to force through the deletion of the section by the National Assembly.

The CSOs say they consider the section an important addition to the Amended Electoral Act because, according to them, it will halt the undemocratic practice of political appointees who abuse the privileges of their positions to manipulate the election process of political parties and secure an unfair advantage using the paraphernalia of state.

One of them, the Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa said: “Political ambitions are of course a guaranteed right in every democracy but it is in the spirit of fairness that all candidates in a contest are offered a level playing ground, with no one enjoying a built-in advantage.”

In a statement signed by the group’s Director of Research and Strategy, Dr. Ikponmwonsa Edosanwan said, “The reality of Nigeria’s politics is that political appointees, by the virtue of their offices and proximity to power, exploit and abuse state agencies to achieve their personal political goals through the hijack, blackmail, and inducement of party organs with various acts of illegal intimidation and quid pro quo to enjoy a clear advantage in the contest.”

“The other side of things, which is no less dangerous, is that political actors are known to bloat their number of appointees with the primary aim of foisting them on political parties as delegates in primaries that they, or their allies, are contenders. Obviously, these appointees turned delegates would vote along with their paymasters and that detracts from the legitimacy of the process.”

“These are the problems that the section addresses. It is an important addition that most certainly will make the party primary process fairer and more transparent, while also affording ordinary citizens desiring to stand for elections a realistic fighting chance, depending on the strength of their ideas and mobilization.”

The group urged the National Assembly not to bow to pressure from the political appointees, saying that the section not only improves the voting process but would have a palpable impact on governance.

“Obviously political appointees fritter away state resources or pass questionable policies to oil hands and gain a leg up in the party contests. This is detrimental to governance and the masses, and the section will put a stop to it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *