A Coalition of Election Monitors and Observers (CEMO) has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against assenting to the recent Electoral Act 2022 amendment bill saying preparations for the 2023 general elections are already in full gears.
The coalition, made up of 24 election monitoring groups stated their position after a meeting in Abuja where they posited that signing the bill now will cause disruption in the processes of primaries already commenced by political parties under the provisions of extant law.
In the amendment, Section 84(8) provides for automatic or statutory delegates but the section seeks to include as delegates the president, vice president, National Assembly members, governors and their deputies and other statutory delegates.
The group noted that as desirable as the amendment is, signing the bill after most political parties had already started implementing critical aspects of the electoral process under the current law is “dangerous, counter-productive, capable of triggering widespread political crisis and litigations that can derail the 2023 general elections.
According to the National Convener of Coalition of Election Monitors and Observers (CEMO)Dr Idris Yabu, who presented the report of the election monitors to the media, President Buhari must save the nation from needless political crisis by returning the Amendment Bill to the National Assembly for reprocessing for future elections.
The guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) require that parties submit the list of their delegates seven days to the convention.
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 elections shall be those democratically elected for that purpose.
The coalition observed that President Buhari ought to have signed the bill earlier to give political parties a uniform direction for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general elections.
It noted that any amendment to the existing law this time would amount to changing the rules in the middle of the game and disrupting the entire electoral process.
According to the Coalition, it must be noted that political parties have already structured their timetables, sold nomination forms, screened aspirants, conducted congresses, elected delegates, with major parties already holding primaries and candidates already emerging under the rules provided for in the current Electoral Act, 2022.