Apprehension has enveloped the two major political parties in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the nation gallops towards the 2023 general elections.
The cause of the anxiety is attributed to the move by the National Assembly to outplay the Executive in the politics of the amended Electoral Act 2022 and the delay by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, in signing the bill into law.
With clear signs that Buhari may not sign the recent amendment to Section 84(8) of Electoral Act 2022 sent to him by the National Assembly last week, statutory delegates who had been excluded in the Act may turn out to be the biggest losers.
Section 84(8) of the Act recognises only democratically elected delegates, stating, “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.”
The implication is that President Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, National Assembly members, governors, their deputies and other statutory delegates in the ruling APC may not be able to vote in the forthcoming primaries, RELIABLESOURCENG.COM learnt.
Others who may be disenfranchised during the primaries, as applicable to all the other 17 political parties, include the National Working Committee members, state party chairmen and secretaries, local government chairmen, their deputies, councillors and party chairmen in the 774 local government areas.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had rallied last week to arrest the situation to recognise statutory delegates as voters during primaries, congresses and conventions of political parties when they amended the section.
With the president hesitant to sign the amendment, it means only National delegates elected at the local government congresses will determine Presidential flagbearers of the party.
Likewise, only the five delegates elected from each ward for the state congresses will vote to elect governors, senators, House of Representatives and states’ House of Assembly members for the APC. For PDP, it will be the three delegates elected from each ward.
Many are struggling to face the reality and hoping that the President will still sign the amendment by next Monday.
As one political analyst put it, “With the seven-day INEC rule for parties to submit their list of delegates before primary elections, new election amendment is now out of time, even if it gets presidential endorsement.”
The APC is said to have already submitted its list of elected delegates to INEC, while the PDP had partially complied, to beat the seven-day deadline.
The PDP has scheduled its presidential primary for May 28 and 29, while the APC will elect its presidential candidate on May 28 and 29.
As things stand, the APC will elect its presidential flagbearer with 2322 democratically elected delegates, based on three National delegates per local government area.
The PDP will elect its presidential flagbearer with 810 delegates based on one National delegate per local government area and one each per state to cover the physically challenged.
Power to determine those that will emerge as candidates for various elective positions has now returned to the state governors; already, they determined those on the list of elected delegates sent to INEC.