With the provisions of the amended Electoral Act, political appointees at the various levels who are either seeking to be elected at their party primaries or who desire to vote as delegates are expected to resign their appointments before the primaries.
Already, INEC has fixed between April and June for the conduct of party primaries, even though the ruling APC is yet to put its house in order in preparation for its national convention and primary elections.
None of the political parties has announced a date for any of the primary elections. But section 84(12) of the amended Act provides that “no political appointee at any level shall be 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.”
With this provision, the likes of Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Pastor Umo Eno and various other political appointees are expected to resign their appointments before the due date for their party primaries, or in the case of the APC, before the March 26 date for national convention.
Amaechi, the minister of transportation and Akpabio, the minister of Niger Delta Affairs are nursing the ambition to contest for the presidential seat, while Eno has already been endorsed by the Akwa Ibom State governor to pick the PDP ticket to contest the governorship election in that state.
It is believed that some of the aspirants who are political appointees have been mounting pressure on the president and the National Assembly for the amendment of that section of the Act.
But the PDP has already gone ahead of them. On Monday, the party secured an exparte order, stopping the president and the National Assembly from tampering with the Electoral Act. Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja stopped Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Senate President from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.
The judge agreed that the Electoral Act had become a valid law and cannot be tampered with without following due process of law. Ekwo agreed with Chief James Ogwu Onoja, SAN, counsel to PDP, that the proper place to challenge the validity of any existing law is a court of competent jurisdiction.
Specifically, the court restrained all the defendants in the suit from removing section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act or preventing It from being implemented for the purpose of the 2023 general elections. There is no clue so far, on when the appointees will resign to face their political ambition.