The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue clear guidelines on the proper interpretation of Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The school made the call in Abuja in a statement titled “Call for Effective Enforcement of Internal Democracy under the Electoral Act, 2020” directed to INEC Chairman and signed by its Director, Dr Sam Amadi.
Amadi said that the call for clear guidelines was important because the section provides for modes in which a political party elect its candidate
According to him, the call is also important to avoid a looming violation of the Electoral Act 2022 by most of the political parties ahead of 2023 general elections.
He said that guidelines was important in ensuring democratic election of all delegates for the elective congress, primaries and conventions of all the political parties for the 2023 general elections.
“It is necessary for the Commission to issue clear guidelines on the proper interpretation of Section 84 to avoid a looming violation of the Electoral Act 2022 by most of the political parties.
“The Commission should exercise its power as a regulatory agency to issue authoritative interpretation of the provisions of the new electoral law relevant to the conduct of primary,” he said.
Amadi also called on INEC to issue a determinative interpretation on the Electoral Act 2022- as being well established by the classical decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council 467 U.S. 837 (1984).
He quoted the decision of the court stating that the court will defer to the interpretation of the agency in respect of its laws as long as those interpretations are logical, reasonable, and rational.
“In this premise, we request the Commission to:
“Issue an authoritative statement in the form of an interpretative guidelines on the conduct of primary elections for the 2023 general elections.
“A directive that only delegates that were duly elected by members of the party in congress, conventions of meeting called in line with Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 are legible to vote candidates in any elective primary or convention of a party for the purpose of choosing candidates for elective offices.
“Therefore, no statutory delegate who is not so elected is qualified to be a delegate to such elective primary or congress.
Amadi also called on INEC to issue an authoritative statement that in determining the validity of any elective congress, INEC would consider the report of its officials who monitored the congress.
“Where the report from INEC officials is that the congress was fraudulently conducted, the Commission will nullify such congress.
“And, will not allow any delegate that emerged from the nullified congress to participate in the elective congress or primary to choose candidates for elective offices,” Amadi outlined.
He said that the new electoral law empowered INEC to regulate the management of political parties to ensure that the objective of electoral democracy, “which is political equality, is realised.
“The law grants the Commission the power to disqualify any candidate that emerges from a process that is not manifestly democratic.
“It is time the commission exercises this power to the fullest to save our democracy from the stranglehold of party bureaucrats and their patrons,” he said.
Amadi said that the school wrote in respect of the apparent violation of some of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 by political parties.
This according to him is to request INEC to intervene to protect the core principles of electoral democracy as enshrined in the constitution and the new electoral law.
Amadi said that the new electoral law holds the key to reversing the political capture of electoral democracy in Nigeria by a few political stalwarts, who have turned party leadership into a weapon against the democratic freedoms of Nigerians and the consolidation of democracy.
He said that while the electoral law might not be anywhere perfect, it provided levers for effective regulation of political transactions.
This according to Amadi is, especially in respect of party membership and selection of candidates for election, stating that the constitution and the Electoral Act, 2022 grants INEC the powers to effectively regulate electoral democracy in Nigeria.
He said that the most consequential reform of the Electoral Act, 2022 was the democratization of the manner in which political parties choose their candidates for elective offices.
“Section 84(2) of the Act provides for three modes of primary election: (1) Direct Primary, (2) Indirect Primary, and (3) Consensus.”
He said while a political party was free to choose whichever mode of primary election it wanted, the fundamental requirement was that the procedure must meet the requirements of democratic election.