…44,045 for governorship candidates
…Fate of ‘super’ delegates hangs
…New arrangements favour emergence of Northern candidate
…North to have 1,257 delegates, South 1,068 delegates
By Clifford Ndujihe, Omeiza Ajayi, Peter Duru & Dirisu Yakubu
Except President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the Electoral Act 2022 Amendment Bill before him, only 2,340 ad-hoc delegates will be participating at the forthcoming convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to elect the party’s presidential candidate for next year’s election.
This is because the current Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) does not provide a role for statutory delegates during the convention.
The ad-hoc delegates will be drawn three apiece from the nation’s 774 local government areas and six area councils of the nation’s capital, Abuja.
APC’s presidential convention, a three-day event, has been fixed for May 30 to June 1.
Statutory or “super” delegates include elected councillors, elected local government chairmen and their vice, political party chairmen in all the 774 LGAs and the Federal Capital Territory FCT, state and federal lawmakers, governors and their deputies, president and vice president, political parties’ national working committee members, state party chairmen and secretaries.
The provision in the principal act reads: “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.
Last week, federal lawmakers amended Section 84 of the principal act by deleting subsection (8) and inserting a new sub-section (8) as follows: “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidates shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting, in addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the Constitution of the party.”
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While the amendment bill has been transmitted to the president, he has a 30-day constitutionally-guaranteed window within which to assent to the Act or withhold assent.
Although the National Assembly leadership seems to have communicated the urgency of assenting the bill to the president, the lawmakers’ rejection of President Buhari’s plea in February to delete the section barring executive appointees from participating in the primaries could force the president to now taking his pound of flesh by withholding assent.
Except the president assents to the amendment bill before the commencement of the APC primaries, the fate of its super delegates hangs in the balance.
Also, the party said five delegates will be elected from each of the nation’s 8,809 wards to elect governorship candidates in their various states.
The APC on Tuesday inaugurated chairpersons and secretaries of screening committees for state Houses of Assembly Aspirants and special congress committees to elect its local government, state and national delegates.
At the inauguration, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu who was represented by the Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Abubakar Kyari said the committees will go to the various states and screen the House of Assembly aspirants, hear appeals after the screening and also conduct congresses to elect a local government, state and national delegates.
“Initially, we were supposed to have two processes but we have decided to combine both exercises so that you all can conduct the exercises one after the other or simultaneously if the situation permits”, he stated.
National Organizing Secretary of the party, Suleiman Muhammad Argungu said the APC leadership would “provide each chairman and secretary of each committee the guidelines that specify roles of the committee which include minimum requirements; APC requirements; educational requirements; payment of form fees which qualifies each aspirant to contest.
“All these and more are in the guidelines that will be given to each group and also, we would provide each group with aspirant assessment verification forms that you will ensure you follow diligently to do justice to each of the aspirants who have purchased forms and submitted”, he added.
Chairman of the Kebbi State Screening Appeals Committee and Director-General, Voice of Nigeria VON, Mr Osita Okechukwu, said three delegates will be elected from each of the nation’s 774 local government areas and six area councils of the FCT.
“We are going to elect five delegates per ward and there are 8,809 wards in the country. Those elected five delegates per ward would go to the state and elect the governor.
“We are going to elect three delegates from each of the 774 local governments, who will elect the president, but the first job is the screening and the delegates would be elected and the delegates would, in turn, elect the governorship and presidential candidates”, he explained.
Okechukwu noted that in all, there are over 3,000 State Assembly aspirants to be screened by the committees.
New arrangements favour the emergence of Northern candidate
The new delegate arrangement will favour the emergence of a Northern candidate unless the APC zones the ticket to the South and takes special measures to produce a Southern candidate.
A breakdown of the 2,340 delegates for the presidential primaries shows that the North has 1,257 delegates while the South has 1,068 delegates.
Also, the North-West zone with seven states and 121 local councils has 558 delegates. It is followed by the South-West, which has six states, 137 local councils and 411 delegates. Both zones account for 979 of the 2,340 delegates.
Going further, the South-South with six states and 123 local councils will have 369 delegates. The fourth zone in terms of delegate strength is North-Central (363 delegates). It has 121 local councils drawn from six states and FCT, Abuja. It is followed by the North-East (336 delegates) with six states and 112 local councils.
The least zone is South-East with five states, 96 local councils and 288 delegates.
Among the 23 presidential aspirants still left in the race for the APC ticket 19 are from the South and four are from the North.
Among the Southern aspirants, eight are from the South-East which has the least number of delegates; seven are from the South-West, and the South-South has four.
In the North, North-West has two while North-East and North-Central have one each.
The aspirants from South-West are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Ajayi Borrofice, Mr Dimeji Bankole, Dr Tunde Bakare, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Those from the South-East are Chief Emeka newajiuba, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Engr Dave Umahi, Senator Ken Nnamani, and Mr Nicholas nwagbo, Mr Ikeobasi Mokelu and Mrs Uju Ohanenye.
The contenders from the South-South are Mr Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Ben Ayade, and Mr Tein Jack-Rich.
The aspirants from the North are Alhaji Yahaya Bello (North-Central), Senate President Ahmad Lawan (North-East), Mohammed Badaru (North-West) and Ahmed Yerima (North-West).
With President Muhammadu Buhari hailing from the North-West, some stakeholders are fingering Yahaya Bello and Lawan as potential northern consensus candidates for the APC ticket.
If that happens, with the huge delegates from the North, and likely division of the southern delegates among the crowd of southern aspirants either Bello or Lawan could pick the prized ticket.
Tinubu to dump APC for SDP if… — Associate
Meanwhile, following alleged plans to scheme Tinubu out of the race for the APC ticket, one of his associates, said yesterday that the third Republic senator the dump the ruling party, and pursue his aspiration on another platform.
The associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Vanguard that the development was the reason former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, stated recently that Tinubu had plan B if APC primaries are manipulated against him.
Although, he noted that APC remains the primary platform Tinubu intends to actualise his dream of presiding over the affairs of the nation, other options including the Social Democratic Party, and SDP, would be explored if the primaries come short of transparency and credibility.
“It is too early to ask if Asiwaju would leave the APC for another party. He is a big factor in APC, a party he helped form, financed and nurtured into what it is today. We are not unaware of recent developments and attempts to insult a man who has paid his dues in the political evolution of this country. But that is not important for now. What I can tell you is that our leader, like other contestants, is looking forward to a credible process that would lead to the emergence of our flag bearer. But if that process is compromised, I can tell you for free that we will encourage him to explore other options.
“Yes, a lot has been said about SDP and Asiwaju. When we get to that bridge, we will cross it. SDP offered him a platform to become a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria years ago but for now, he is in APC and will remain there until circumstance dictates otherwise,” he said.
Tinubu is gunning for the sole ticket of the party alongside other formidable contestants such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu, and Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello among others. In an interview with the media a few months ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had said that he would not reveal the identity of his preferred successor, lest he is eliminated.
Only recently APC chieftain and until recently a Presidential aspirant, Moses Ayom called on Babachir Lawal to withdraw his comment on Tinubu’s possible defection, labelling some as a threat to the Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee, NWC, saying “right now, the NWC is the leadership of the APC and it should be given all kinds of support to succeed. The idea of indirectly threatening the NWC that Tinubu has another option if he is not given the ticket should not arise at all. As a committed APC leader from the Middle-Belt, I call on Babachir to withdraw the comments and apologize to the party immediately.”
Give me a ticket, I’ll beat any PDP candidate, Tinubu urges APC delegates
However, Senator Bola Tinubu has urged APC delegates to give him the 2023 presidential ticket assuring that there would be no contest between him and whoever emerges as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP at the poll.“The former governor of Lagos State, who spoke Tuesday while addressing delegates and stakeholders of the APC in Makurdi said he has the capacity and is well endowed to lead the country.
“He stated that he was in the race to replicate what he did in Lagos State as governor by building a united and prosperous Nigeria.“While rekindling the hope of Nigerians in the unity of the country, Senator Tinubu assured that his presidency would redirect the resources of the country and make them beneficial to every citizen.
“He said: “I will bring the experience of my leadership in Lagos State as governor to bear on my leadership style in Nigeria when elected president of the country. And I guarantee you that I will run a transparent, and open government as President. Nigeria is rich, what we need is to redirect our resources and channel them in the right direction.
“I urge you to give me the ticket because there will be no contest between me and whoever will emerge as the candidate of the opposition PDP.” Senator Tinubu urged Nigerian youths to entrust him with the leadership of the country assuring that he would meet their expectations.
“Earlier, Senator Kashim Shetimma had recalled and extolled the leadership qualities of Senator JS Tarka, who hailed from Benue State describing him as the leader and emancipator of the minority interest groups in Nigeria.
“He said Senator Tinubu possesses such leadership qualities, describing him as the right person to take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
Zonal breakdown of APC delegates South-South
Akwa Ibom – 93
Bayelsa – 24
Cross River – 54
Delta – 75
Edo – 54
Rivers – 69
Total – 369
Abia – 54
Anambra – 63
Enugu – 51
Ebonyi – 39
Imo – 81
Total – 288
Lagos – 60
Ekiti – 48
Ogun – 60
Osun – 90
Oyo – 99
Ondo – 54
Total – 411
Adamawa – 63
Bauchi – 60
Gombe – 33
Borno – 81
Yobe – 51
Taraba – 48
Total – 336
Kogi – 63
Kwara – 48
Benue – 69
Plateau – 51
Nasarawa – 39
Niger – 75
FCT, Abuja – 18
Total – 363
Kaduna – 69
Kano – 132
Katsina – 102
Kebbi – 63
Jigawa – 81
Sokoto – 69
Zamfara – 42
Total – 558