Why’s Everyone Fighting Over Section 84 of the Electoral Act?

March 25, 2022

When President Buhari signed the Electoral Act 2022 on February 25th 2022, he made one tiny request to the National Assembly — he asked that they delete Section 84 (12).

Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 is causing some division

The leaders of parliament present at the signing of the law said, “We’ll look into it.” But the two arms of government have been struggling over the issue since then.

What is Section 84 (12)?

The long and short of Section 84 (12) is that political appointees like federal ministers and state commissioners have to resign from office before they can contest in elections.

For example, if the current Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, wanted to run for the office of Kebbi State governor, he’d have to resign his position before he could contest in his party’s primary election. 

According to the timetable that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released for the 2023 general elections, primary elections will take place between April 4 and June 3, 2022. This means Malami would have to resign from office before being eligible to contest for the primaries, according to Section 84 (12). 

Why’s Section 84 (12) controversial?

Before the introduction of Section 84 (2) of the Electoral Act, the resignation issue was dealt with by Section 66 of the 1999 constitution. It stipulates that public service employees have to resign from office at least 30 days to the general election if they’re contesting. With this timeline, an appointee would have already won their party’s ticket and run part of their campaign while still in office. 

Basically, Section 66 of the constitution leaves room for political appointees to contest in primaries without the risk of losing their appointive positions, but Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act makes it possible for them to lose both ways.

So if Section 84 (12) had not been signed in February, Malami wouldn’t have to resign till January 2023.

P.S.: We didn’t pick Malami as a random example — he’ll be important later.

ALSO READ: What Should You Do When Buhari Visits Your City?

Why Buhari is against Section 84 (12)

Buhari’s argument against Section 84 (12) is that it violates the constitutional rights of appointees to vote and be voted. According to him, the wording of the section prevents affected appointees from participating in their party’s internal affairs even when they’re not standing as candidates. 

What did the National Assembly do?

Remember that lawmakers promised Buhari they’d look into his request to remove Section 84 (12)? Well, they looked into it, and their verdict was:

Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 is causing some division

Getting the National Assembly into a direct fight with the Buhari administration is as rare as seeing Buhari at a local clinic. But Section 84 (12) did that. 

The lawmakers refused to remove the section because they believe that political appointees use the influence of their office as an advantage over other aspirants. With their public offices, they have access to public resources to run their election campaigns.

Enter: The Courts

When Buhari first made his request in February, the Federal High Court in Abuja stopped the National Assembly from taking any decision on retaining or removing Section 84 (12). Lawmakers ignored the ruling and voted to retain the section against Buhari’s wish.

But on March 18th 2022, the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State asked Malami to delete Section 84 (12). Justice Evelyn Anyadike ruled that Section 84 (12) clearly violated Section 66 of the 1999 constitution and could not be allowed to stay because the constitution has supreme authority.

And with the sort of speed rarely seen in Nigerian politics, Malami agreed to do it. He announced the Electoral Act 2022 would be gazetted without Section 84 (12). Gazetting is the official implementation of a law, and this would mean the end of the road for Section 84 (12) if Malami goes through with it.

Who benefits from the death of Section 84 (12)?

In the short term, the deletion of Section 84 (12) would be a relief for certain ministers in the Buhari administration rumoured to be nursing ambitions to contest in the 2023 general elections. 

One of such beneficiaries is Malami, whose name has been sounded out for the governor’s seat in Kebbi State.

Others who are rumoured to also nurse 2023 ambitions are the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige.

Should Nigerians care?

The fight over Section 84 (12) is deeply political, but many consider it to be beneficial to the commonwealth of Nigerians. The provision effectively prevents political appointees from using public resources to fund their campaigns. Also, public officers running election campaigns simultaneously are typically distracted from their appointive duties while campaigning. Section 84 (12) potentially fixes that.

Where will the Section 84 (12) drama end?

Legal experts have argued both in support and against the appropriateness of Justice Anyadike’s ruling against Section 84 (12). There are also burning questions over Malami’s powers to enforce the court order. The National Assembly is angry and has passed motions to appeal against the court order.

But while everybody chats away, Malami, who is eager to drive Section 84 (12) off a cliff, is in the driving seat of the decision to either retain or void it.

Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 is causing some division

ALSO READ: What’s RCCG’s Business With 2023 Election

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 7, 2020

Yesterday reports filtered in via social media that the Onitsha River Port is now functional. Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President on New Media, also stated that Maersk, the shipping giant, will be sending container ships that are due to leave Shanghai, China on October 10 directly to the Onne Port. The containers will […]

October 18, 2020

As Nigerian youths continue to fight against police against brutality under the #EndSARS movement, there has been much ado the setting up of a judicial panel of inquiry in Nigeria’s 36 states, so as to look into the crimes committed by officers of the Nigeria Police Force. The Goal of the Judicial Inquiry The goal […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

November 28, 2022

Just hours to the planned November 26, 2022 resumption of operations on the Abuja-Kaduna railway corridor, the Federal Government announced a postponement. It’s not the first time the government has postponed a planned resumption since terrorists attacked the railway corridor in March. But more than the government’s erratic announcements and postponements, Nigerians remain worried about […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

November 30, 2019

With No Nut November FINALLY coming to an end, we’ve decided to mark the torturous month with some more horny content. After quizzes that guessed how many people you’ve slept with, how good you are in bed and who you’ll sleep with next, this one will guess when next you’ll get lucky. Take it to […]

More from Citizen

November 28, 2022

Just hours to the planned November 26, 2022 resumption of operations on the Abuja-Kaduna railway corridor, the Federal Government announced a postponement. It’s not the first time the government has postponed a planned resumption since terrorists attacked the railway corridor in March. But more than the government’s erratic announcements and postponements, Nigerians remain worried about […]

November 27, 2022

It seems like Nigerians aren’t the only ones concerned about the 2023 elections, even our colonisers have taken some interest as well. Considering that our immigration rate to the United Kingdom has increased to 64% in one year, it’s not exactly surprising. The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has warned all political parties […]

November 25, 2022

Just three months to the start of the 2023 elections, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, started a beef with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It wasn’t about electoral violence or vote buying but rather a new feature of the 2023 elections. The APC national chairman believes Nigeria […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X