Mass Resignation Hits Buhari’s Ministers, Others, Full List
Information reaching Ibom Focus says that Mass Resignation Hits Buhari’s Ministers, Others
Not less than four ministers among them Rotimi Amaechi, Raji Fashola, Abubakar Malami and Chris Ngige are in a tight corner following the senate’s rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to amend the Electoral Act, 2022.
Buhari had sought the amendment of the act to delete Section 84(12), which he said contravenes the rights of political office holders to vote or be voted for in political party conventions and congresses.
The body language of the four ministers showed that they are nursing 2023 ambitions.
While Amaechi, Ngige and Fashola are said to be eyeing the presidency, Malami, who hails from Kebbi State, wants to contest for the governorship seat of his home state.
It was learnt that dozens of heads of agencies who are set to contest for elections are also going to be affected by this development.
Also, commissioners and other state government appointees who are preparing to contest in the forthcoming general elections are not left out of this dilemma.
Section 84(12) states that “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 nomination of candidates for any election.”
However, analysts say Section 84(12) of the electoral act is in direct conflict with provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify, by extension as public officers within the context of the constitution is resignation, withdrawal, or retirement at least 30 days before the date of the election, as provided in Section 66(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The president assented to the bill based on the understanding that the section would be expunged to enable the political appointees to participate in the convention, congress and other activities.
Lawan’s pledge during assent
Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the legislature would consider the president’s request for the amendment of the clause.
“You know, this is a legitimate request. And that is why we commend the president. I will commend him for so many things, but let me also qualify it that even though he disagreed with the section, especially clause 84(12) that talks about public political office holders, he still went ahead to sign the bill into law and that is to show his commitment and desire to have an electoral law that will ensure that we have better outcomes when we do election.
“So, we will look at what he is asking for, I hope that they will send the request for the amendment in good time because time is of the essence,” he said.
During the plenary on Wednesday, the Senate rejected Buhari’s request to amend the electoral act as the bill failed to scale through second reading.
Senators overwhelmingly rejected the bill when it was put to a voice vote for second reading.
Before the vote, several lawmakers from across party lines spoke against amending the bill and urged the Senate to abide by the court ruling, which stopped the National Assembly from tampering with the electoral law.
They said going ahead with the amendment of the Act was in clear conflict with the Senate rule, which prevents them from deliberating on any matter on which a judicial decision is pending.
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday barred President Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the senate president from tampering with the Act.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on an ex-parte application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the electoral act had become a valid law and could not be amended without following the due process of law.
Senators justify rejection
Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi) set the tone for the bill to be stepped down when he raised a point of order to draw his colleagues’ attention to Rule 52(5) of the Senate Standing Order, which prevents the Red Chamber from considering any matter already before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Aliero urged the Senate to step down consideration of the bill pending the vacation of a court order.
“We should not be seen to be disobeying the court order. No matter how bad that court order is, we should respect it,” he said.
Senate President Lawan while ruling on Aliero’s point of order insisted that the move by the upper chamber to amend the electoral act was in line with exercising its constitutional duties.
He said, “Looking at the request does not mean granting the request. Members of the National Assembly are at liberty to review the request to see if the arguments by the executive arm of government are convincing enough.
“If the arguments are not convincing enough, the National Assembly can deny the request and that is how it is. We have no encumbrance from that order.”
After Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi) led the debate on the bill, other senators spoke against going ahead with the amendment.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) kicked against the deletion of Section 84(12).
Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), who was opposed to the consideration of the bill, said, “In any election where people have the added advantage of holding executive power, either by proxy or directly or by appointment, for such people to have access and compete with others who came from the street, I think is an unjust society.”
The effort by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who spoke in favour of the amendment to sway his colleagues to support the deletion, was unsuccessful as the bill received a resounding ‘nay’ when it was put to voice vote.
The House of Representatives had through its spokesman, Benjamin Okezie Kalu, on Tuesday, said it would not take any action on the communication from the president because of a subsisting injunction barring the National Assembly from taking any action on it.
Lawmakers violate understanding with the president – Don
Reflecting on the development, an associate Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said the decision of the senators was morally wrong.
He told Daily Trust that the action of the lawmakers punctured their understanding with the president that the reservations would be addressed.
“The decision is morally wrong because it was a violation of an understanding – or even unwritten agreement – that the president would sign the bill (as it was then) and send an amendment in respect of the contentious clause.
“Without that understanding, I strongly doubt whether the 2022 Electoral Amendment Act would have seen the light of day.
“So, the decision by the Senate is not good for executive-legislature relations; some may even see it as a betrayal of the president.
“It is certainly a huge blow to the Senate president who failed to rein in his colleagues to embrace a compromise position,” he said.
The university don said the decision was a huge victory for the opposition PDP.
“On the other hand, the decision of the Senate will be hailed by many as capable of deepening democracy.
“Political appointees now cannot eat their cake and have it and cannot be deployed whimsically and wholesale to tilt the outcome of party primaries.
“The decision will also give the Senate some credit in terms of asserting its independence. Don’t forget the clause was deliberately inserted by federal legislators to get back at their opponents, particularly governors and ministers.
“Those federal legislators will now be very happy about the new development.
“It may not be the end of the matter, though. Those aggrieved are likely to go to court.
“Besides, the grounds raised by the president against Section 84(12) are quite strong and will sooner than later be tested in court,” he said.
No time frame for appointees to resign – SAN
Reacting, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) said the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act does not put a time frame within which public office holders must resign to be eligible for votes at a political party’s convention or congress.
He, however, said political parties are now expected to produce their rules and regulations for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“The rules will guide their internal elections and it does not affect INEC,” he said.
Based on the newly released INEC timetable for 2023 polls, the conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from it, will take place between April 4 and June