Changes in the sequence of the election has been making headlines, but it is not the only changes in electoral amendment bill. Below are my take-aways from the bill;
1. If the courts determines that an elected candidate was not duly elected and ordered to vacate the office, such person can no longer be ordered to return all salaries and benefits derived while in office (Which was the case with Benue Reps member Hembe, who was ordered by the supreme court to return all salaries collected while in office).
2. Public media houses are obligated to allocate media time equally to political parties, failure to do so makes them liable to a maximum fine of N2,000,000 while principal officers of the media houses shall pay a fine of N2,000,000, from N500,000.
3. Every political parties to now commence campaigning 150 days before polling day and end 24 hours to the election day. Before the amendment, political campaign commenced 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours to the commencement of an election day.
4. The amendment to the maximum limit on election expenses that can be incurred by candidates are as follows:
- Presidential election increased from One Billion Naira to Five Billion Naira
- Governorship election increased from Two Hundred Million Naira to One Billion Naira
- Senatorial seat increased from Forty Million Naira to Hundred Million Naira
- Federal House of Reps also increased from Twenty Million Naira to Seventy Million Naira
- State assembly election from Ten Million Naira to Thirty Million Naira
- Chairmanship election from Ten Million Naira to Thirty Million Naira
- Councillorship election also increased One Million Naira to Five Million Naira
N.B: Any Individual or entity is proIhbited from donating more than Ten Million Naira to any candidate, and increase from One Million Naira.
5. The electoral amendments is also opening up the party system and enhancing democracy by prohibiting political parties from imposing arbitrary fees by political parties on political aspirants and prescribe limits for elective offices as follows:
- N150,000 for a Ward Councillorship aspirant in the FCT
- N250,000 for an Area Council Chairmanship aspirant in the FCT
- N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant
- N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant
- N2,000,000 for a Senatorial aspirant
- N5,000,000 for a Governorship aspirant
- N10, 000,000 for a Presidential aspirant.
6. The current provision states that Presiding Officer should count and announce the result at the polling units. In the proposed amendment, it provides for the presiding officer to ONLY announce the result at the polling unit but for some reasons omitted counting of votes at the polling units.
7. A new subsection seeks to empower the Commission to suspend elections in cases where a nominated candidate dies after commencement of an election but before the declaration of the final result for a period not exceeding 21 days upon being satisfied of the death. The proposal further allows the affected Political Party a period of 14 days from the death of its candidate to conduct new primaries to replace the deceased.
8. Current provision provides for the elections into National Assembly, state House of Assembly and Presidential elections to be held on a date appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But the new amendment provides for elections to be held in the following order:
- National Assembly Elections
- State Houses of Assembly
- Governorship Elections and
- Presidential election
It provides for elections on the dates as appointed by INEC.
Credit: Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)