The legislature has the power to enact anything as long as the enactment does not contravene any known constitutional principles or provisions, it is still of essence that the implication of every enactment is clarified to the enacting authority. It is against this background that this article highlights the electoral Act and its effect on Nigeria’s political future; looking beyond the present.
The Electoral Act was amended and signed on the 25th of February,2022 by the president, Muhammad Buhari which changed the former or repealed the electoral Act of 2010. This new law will affect the conduct of political parties for the forthcoming election and beyond. The new ACT provides a legal framework that empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deploy technological solutions for elections in Nigeria.
The Electoral Act is a revised version of the Electoral Act of 2010. The new act gives provisions for the electronic transmission of results and the adoption of direct primaries by all political parties.
The adoption of direct primaries where parties run formal elections to declare their official candidates has been the subject of heated debates in political sectors: state governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party and members of the constitution committee of the National Assembly have argued that Nigeria cannot ‘afford’ having elections for direct primaries, as the country is too poor. However, there are also benefits to this Act as well. The effects shall be addressed hereunder:
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The Effects Of The Electoral Act
It Encourages Early Party Primaries
The Electoral Act has encouraged early party primaries and also to submit of the list of their sponsored candidates not later than 180 days before the general election. This provision is contrary to the repealed act which stated that it should be submitted 60 days before the general election.
This change has made a great effect on the political future of Nigeria for political parties to conduct their primaries early enough to meet up with the submission of their list of candidates 180 days before the general election.
Death Of Electoral Candidates
The death of electoral candidates has brought a lot of issues in the past act or repealed acts. This again brought about the new act to cure some of the mischiefs in the repealed Act. The new act provides that before the commencement of polls a candidate dies, the election shall be postponed and it will commence 14 days after the death of a such candidate.
Revision Of the Definition Of Over Voting
In the repealed Act, where the votes cast exceeds the number of registered voters, the presiding officer can cancel the results of the election while in the new act, where the number of votes cast exceeds the number of accredited voters the presiding officer can cancel the election (over-voting).
The Power Of Review Given To INEC
The new Act gave the power of review to INEC on the final decision of the rejected ballot paper, declaration of scores, etc. Unlike the repealed act that the decision to review was subject to the election tribunal or court. In order words, the act gave INEC the power to review any result they declare under questionable circumstances.
Unlike the former Act, the new act provides for electronic devices such as smart card readers, electronic voting machines, etc.
It Gives Financial Independence To INEC
The new Act ensures that all the money needed to conduct an election would be released a year before the time of the election.
The New Act Provides Extension of Timelines for Key Electoral Activities.
The Act ensures a comprehensive breakdown of electoral activities to address the problem of logistics that usually occurs during the election.
The Political Future Of The Electoral Act
Looking beyond the present, the electoral act will help to reduce rigging in subsequent elections or it will serve as an antidote to rigging future elections in the country as said by the Director General of the voice of Nigeria. The Electoral Act will also mark an important milestone in Nigeria’s electoral reforms, citizens’ political participation in elections, and consolidation of democracy.
By signing the bill, Okechuku said, President Buhari had bequeathed to Nigerians an Electoral Act that empowers the deployment of the Smart Card Reader, Biometric Voter Accreditation System, and other technology devices for elections.
By the Electoral Act 2022, the VRV now offers electronic accreditation and electronic transmission of results. These voter empowerment machines combined to revolutionize free, fair, and transparent elections in Nigeria. Electronic Transmission of results is the key element in the Act and will automatically boost voter turnout to 60 percent in future elections.
With the VRV strengthened by the law, Nigerians could now turn out massively on election day with confidence that they could vote out bad leaders.
– Djet lawyer
– The Electoral Act 2022 by Miracle Eme
– Electoral Act by Jide Ojo