As the ding-dong on the new electoral act unsettles the political class and, with the charge on Thursday by Kwara State government on political office holders aspiring for elective offices to make up their minds in earnest, a list of eight political appointees of the governor emerged at the weekend of eight resignees eyeing elective positions in the 2023 general elections in the State.
This list includes SA Special Duties, Ahmed Yinka Aluko, who is eyeing the Kwara Central Senatorial seat; Commissioner for Education and Human Development, Saa’datu Modibbo Kawu, (House of Representatives, (Ilorin South/East Federal Constituency); Commissioner for Justice, Salman Jawondo, SAN, (House of Representatives, (Ilorin/Asa).
Others are Commissioner for Enterprise, Fatima Arinola Lawal, (House of Representatives, (Ilorin South/East); KWASSIP GM, Mohammed Braimoh, (House of Representatives, Ilorin East/South) and Commissioner for Health, Dr Raji Rasaq, (House of Representatives, Irepodun/Isin/Ekiti/Oke-Ero).
Also on the list are the Senior Special Assistant, Community Intervention, Kayode Oyin Zubair, (House of Representatives, Irepodun/Isin/Ekiti/Oke-Ero) and Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Harriet Afolabi Oshatimehin, (House of Representatives, (Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun).
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Thursday at a capacity building seminar on the new Electoral Act 2022 for political office holders aspiring for elective offices on the new Electoral Act charged them to go through the new electoral act and not run foul of the law.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Mr Kayode Alabi, the Governor urged the aspiring contestants to go through the new electoral act because ignorance is not an excuse in law. “There are new provisions in the Act that are quite revolutionary. They could undo whatever efforts of any political party or candidates if we run foul of them." He said..
Prior to this time, a directive from the State Government has given political appointees seeking nominations for elective positions through the party’s primaries 15th April 2022 as the deadline to resign from office.
According to a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Mamman Saba Jibril, the directive is in line with the provisions of section 84(12) of the new Electoral Act.
The governor at the Thursday seminar gave countenance to the essence and spirit of Otoge, advising that the contestants and the party should recommit themselves and stay true to the Otoge movement.
"It is on this note that I send my best wishes to all our appointees who are leaving to contest for elective offices. That is in the spirit of Section 84 (12) of the Act. Whatever happens at the primaries, please remember that this is one family and everyone belongs in the room."
"This gathering is very important for our party. As you may have noticed, the new electoral act has redefined how election is conducted in Nigeria. For political parties, the new electoral act calls for discipline and respect for internal democracy and rule of law. It shuts the door against impunity of all kinds. That is the way to go if we want our democracy to grow."
AbdulRazaq also called for unity, peaceful conduct, discipline, fairness, selflessness, and respect for rule of law ahead of the APC primaries.
"To win the 2023 election, all of us must recommit ourselves to the whole essence and spirit of Otoge. We must remind ourselves always that Kwara cannot go back to the era where the destiny of our people was tied to some single individual. We may disagree as progressives. That is normal. But we must never lose focus of the burden of history."
Senior Advocate of Nigeria Roland Otaru stressed the need for thorough screening of candidates ahead of general elections to comply with the provisions of Electoral Act and reduce post-election litigations.
Otaru advised political office holders seeking elective positions to obey all the provisions of the new Electoral Act and avoid any contravention.
"The new Electoral Act 2022 is to regulate the conduct of federal, states and area councils elections to make provisions for the restrictions of the qualifications for electing office to relevant provisions of the constitution of the 1999 constitution as amended, use of card readers and other technologies and devices in elections and political parties primaries," he said.
"All the provisions in the Electoral Act 2022 are important and must be complied with. There is nothing like cutting short corners to sideline the mandatory provisions of the Act. This is because many of the provisions of the Act used the word 'shall' which implies mandatory compliance."
A Professor of Political Science Hassan Saliu, who spoke on internal democracy and cohesion, harped on strict respect to internal democracy in line with the 1999 constitution, party constitution, Electoral Act 2022, INEC regulations and support of members of political parties to avoid internal wrangling.
"Running a party is liking running a public institution guided by laws. A party is said to be operating internal democracy if it allows all its layers and structures to operate freely," he said.
Prof. Saliu also encouraged politicians to play the game in the overall interest of the people and advance the cause of development of the society.
A retired INEC Secretary Dr Mudashir Mustapha called for credible process rooted in internal democracy and effective management of party primaries.
"Lack of adherence to the rule of law, non-complianc with Electoral Act and due process in the administration of political parties in Nigeria are some of the problems thwarting the emergence of parties candidates. So, the conduct of party primaries among political parties are becoming a turning flesh and threat to the success of parties during polls," Dr Mustapha said.