Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has described the call for the amendment of the Electoral Act 2022 as selfish.
The Senate had on Wednesday rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s move to expunge Clause 84(12) of the Act.
The Clause reads: “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 purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
The import of Clause 84 (12) is that serving political appointees at all levels must resign in record time if they wished to contest for elective positions.
President Buhari, had, in his letter to the National Assembly seeking the amendment, stated that the clause constituted a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the national election.
But while speaking with journalists at the national secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday, Saraki said it’s wrong for such appointees to seek elective office without first resigning their positions.
According to him, staying in office to contest elections would confer undue advantage on such officeholders who might use the influence of the office to the disadvantage of other contestants.
Saraki said: “I disagree with that. I mean, why should someone be in political office and use the influence of political office to contest?
“We talked about the participation of youth? What chance does the young Nigerian have to contest with somebody who is sitting in public office; has access to power by influence; has access to funds of government?
“If you want to contest, for heaven’s sake, go out, resign and go and contest? Why would you stay in political office?
“It’s even wrong for us to be debating it. It is so selfish. If you truly want to represent this country, why do you have to remain in political office?
“Step out and contest. And if we are talking about youths, we are talking about people having an opportunity.
“What chance does a 25-year old young man or woman have against somebody who is a director in a government agency? We should not encourage things like that”.
Saraki commended the signing of the Act, saying that it would sanitise the electoral process and provide for free, fair and credible elections in the country.
“And I have always believed that credible elections are the foundation for better government, better representation, and performance.
“Once people who are elected know that there are means by which if you do not perform, you get voted out when the wish of the people represents what happens at elections, then we have a better democracy.
“But the challenge now is for a lot of Nigerians, particularly the youth who have given up hope, who have lost interest because they do not believe in the electoral process.
“I want to appeal to Nigerian youth that the Electoral Act we have now gives you a better chance for your wish to happen; for what you deserve, the kind of people you want elected”, Saraki said.