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Electoral act: Clause on political appointees will stop impunity, says Edwin Clark

 


Edwin Clark, an Ijaw national leader, says the clause in the new electoral act, which requires political appointees to resign their positions before participating in party primaries, will stop “impunity”.

 

Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 reads: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had, while signing the electoral act amendment bill into law on February 25, asked the national assembly to delete the clause on the basis that it will “disenfranchise” political appointees.

 

The senate has also received a letter from the president on the request to delete the clause.


But Clark, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said the provision is in order with ensuring “sanity” in Nigeria’s electoral system.

 

“Nobody will be disenfranchised; all the Act is saying is that we want to stop impunity and waywardness,” he said.

 

He described the section as “legal and valid”, adding that “there is no constitutional breach, and therefore, the call on Mr. President to NASS to review that the said Section 84 (12), is unnecessary, if we are serious that we want to sanitise our electoral system”.


“Firstly, there is no provision in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which allows public servants to remain in office, while engaging in political activities,” he said.

 

“Also, Article 31 (1) (iii) of the APC Constitution (October 2014 As Amended), states that: “Any Party office holder interested in contesting for an elective office (whether party office or office in a general election) shall resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or party primary for the office he or she is seeking to contest”.

 

“Under public policy, it is inconsistent for a government appointee to remain in office, when he is contesting a political position.

 

“I have also observed that such public office holders normally give at least one month notice before entering into the political field in order to contest any position, whether as councillor in a local government council or as president of the country.


“This moral and pristine practice has been overtaken recently by the system where law and order are no longer obeyed in Nigeria. Public servants now contest public offices, still holding/occupying their political appointments/offices, except in a situation where either the President or Governor asks such interested person to resign.”

 

He added that allowing political appointees to remain in office while contesting could present a conflict of interest in terms of using public funds to run campaigns.

 

“The new Electoral Law is, indeed, in line with government policy and loyalty to the government; and not in some cases, where there could be conflict of audit interest between the personal expenses of such appointees when they begin to use government funds and properties such as vehicles, drivers, etc., in their possession, if Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act is amended to state otherwise,” he said.

 

“Political party conventions and congresses should be attended only by party’s card-carrying elected delegates from their various wards, who are not political office holders or appointees, by the party members.

 

 “Mr. President has no powers to delve into this matter. INEC has the prerogative to deal with the situation.

 

“Mr. President, if we are sincere in fighting corruption and other forms of vices plaguing our country, this is one big opportunity. Let us not blow it, because we want to serve the interest of a few persons who are in office today.”

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