Strong indications have emerged that the Presidency, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the ruling All Progressives Congress have differed on the amendment made by the National Assembly to the Electoral Act, 2022 which gives recognition to statutory delegates in the primaries of political parties.
The PUNCH reliably learnt on Sunday that the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; the AGF and the APC were not on the same page over the participation of statutory delegates in the forthcoming presidential primaries; a development that has delayed the assent of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Senate and the House of Representatives had in penultimate week, passed an amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates at primaries, congresses and conventions of political parties.
The lawmakers amended Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 to provide for automatic or statutory delegates ahead of the forthcoming party primaries.
The PUNCH had reported that the National Assembly, on May 13, transmitted the bill to the President for assent.
However, Buhari had yet to sign the amendment bill into law as of 7pm on Sunday; more than a week after the National Assembly passed and transmitted the legislation.
Sources told our correspondent that the leadership of the National Assembly, especially Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had briefed the President on the intendment of the proposal.
A source in the leadership of the House, who preferred to be anonymous, said, “I can speak unofficially for our side. The President has received the brief of the Speaker on the good intendment (of the proposal), and his Chief of Staff is in touch with us.”
“Internal (Presidential) Villa politics is the reason for the delay and miscommunication to the President. Malami, Chief of Staff, Vice-President and the party have different views.”
Another leader of the House informed our correspondent that he would contact President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on the possibility of the National Assembly leadership meeting with Buhari on the matter.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, noted that the 1999 Constitution and parties’ constitutions recognise a category of party members as statutory or automatic delegates.
Kalu said, “Through judicial interaction, we have found out that there is a missing link in Section 84(8). If left to be as it is, it would disenfranchise people who are supposed to be automatic delegates. That was why in the wisdom of the House, we brought it up for a little restructuring towards the end of that particular Subsection 8.
“We decided to add ‘In addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the constitution of the party.’ So, if the constitution of your party has prescribed (occupants of) certain offices who have served government or who are still serving government as automatic delegates, they are referred to as statutory delegates.
“Prior to this adjustment, these sets of people were not accommodated. So, Mr President who assented to the law, the Speaker, the Senate President and the spokesman for the House were excluded from participating in the nomination of candidates of the parties.”