There is ranging controversy over refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amendment in the Electoral Act 2022.
Telescope.ng reports that many politicians both with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were shocked when the seven day window given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to all the party to submit names of their delegates elapsed without president signing the Act.
Nigerian Tribune also identified five factors that may account for the seeming disposition of President Buhari towards giving his assent to the amendment in the Electoral Act 2022.
The PDP had alleged that the action of the president not to sign the amendment was part of a plot to extend the tenure of his administration beyond May 29, 2023.
The guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) require that parties submit the list of their delegates seven days to the convention.
In the amendment, Section 84(8) provides for automatic or statutory delegates, who The section seeks to include as delegates the president, vice president, National assembly members, governors and their deputies, other statutory delegates.
The provision is a sharp contrast to the section in the Electoral Act 2022 signed by the president, which states: “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 election s shall be those democratically elected for that purpose.”
Nigerian Tribune was informed on Sunday that one of the reasons the president is hesitant to assent to the amendment was because of the need to whittle down the perceived undue influence of some presidential aspirants regarded as wielding awesome influence in the political space.
Such contestants are said to be among the 26 aspirants seeking the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) cutting across the geopolitical zones.
One of the aspirants said to be from the southern part of the country has succeeded in lobbying some governors with considerable influence on delegates to the incoming primaries.
The fear in the official circle, according to the sources, is that a presidential assent to the amendment will boost the chance of any of those powerful aspirants emerging as the candidate of the political parties, as the amendment provides for a huge number of statutory delegates.
It was also learnt that the authorities were not happy with the members of the National Assembly chose to add the provision of statutory delegates by breaching a mutual agreement with the executive arm of government that the legislature should delete apart of Section 84 of the original Electoral Act 2022 signed by the president.
“Buhari is also extracting a pound of flesh from the National Assembly. They quickly added statutory delegates, but ignored a mutual agreement to delete a part of Section 84,” the source stressed.
The quest to bequeath a ‘legacy of probity’ in the political transition programme, was also said to be another reason for the action of the president, just he was said be concerned about the cost implications of implementing the amendment in the electoral law by the political parties.
The sources reportedly said: “He is also worried about huge cost and management of delegates. Statutory delegates will increase the number of delegates in APC from about 2, 200 to about 12,000. It is expensive for aspirants and even. In terms of money for logistics and other expenditures to incur on delegates. So, it could worsen corruption.”
The other reason said to have informed the lukewarm attitude of the president to the amendment was the fact that some of the 18 registered political parties had commenced the conduct of primaries to pick candidates for the 2023 general election maintaining: “If the amendment is signed now, it means such political parties will have to start all over again.”
Meanwhile, the PDP has alleged that President Buhari was being pressured to delay the signing of the Electoral Act amendment by elements in the APC intent on foisting tenure elongation on the country.