News - Politics & Policy - May 13, 2022

Nigeria must use Electoral Act, 2022 to enforce internal democracy, says Abuja School Director

By Halimah Yahaya

The Federal Government must ensure the effective enforcement of internal democracy under the Electoral Act, 2022, the Director of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, Sam Amadi, has said.

Amadi, who is the former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), stressed the importance of the new electoral law to the process of establishing democracy and accountable governance in Nigeria.

An effective internal democracy, he said, holds the key to reversing the political capture of electoral democracy in the country by a few political stalwarts, who have turned party leadership into a weapon against the democratic freedoms of Nigerians and the consolidation of democracy.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the amended electoral bill into law in February this year.

Since the enactment of the new electoral law, the president said the Independent National Electoral Commission has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure free, fair, and credible elections in 2023, starting with the off-season elections in Osun and Ekiti states.

“The Commission has also adopted technological innovations that have improved the fairness and freeness of voting and enhanced the credibility of electoral results, especially in the Anambra Governorship Election. All these innovations are now legally protected by the new electoral law.

“What remains is for the Commission to intervene in the management of party affairs to protect the democratic rights of members of the political parties, as enablers of democratic accountable post-election.

The experience of the last six electoral circles since 1999 he said, has underlined the importance of free, fair and democratic primary elections as the barometer for measuring the quality of electoral democracy.

The general consensus reflected in the 2022 amendment of the electoral law, he noted, was that it was time to effectively regulate the management of party primary elections, to secure stronger foundations for democracy in Nigeria.

In outlining their demand to the electoral umpire Chairman, Amadi said in the context of the extreme importance of ensuring democratic election of all 2delegates 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 the looming violation of the Electoral Act 2022 by most of the political parties.

The Commission, he said, should exercise its powers as a regulatory agency,to issue authoritative interpretation of the provisions of the new electoral law relevant to the conduct of primary.

“The authority of the Commission as a regulator agency to issue a determinative interpretation on its law- the Electoral Act 2022, has been well established by the classical decision of the US Supreme Court in Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council 467 U.S. 837 (1984) 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, he added,” he said.

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