· 2,340 ad hoc delegates to elect candidate
· North to have 1,257 delegates, South 1,068 delegates
By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
WITH the latest decision of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to allow ad-hoc delegates to elect the presidential candidate of the party at the May 30 to June 1 convention, two northern aspirants have emerged as frontrunners for the ticket.
Chairman of the Kebbi state Screening Appeals Committee and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, VON, Mr Osita Okechukwu, said three delegates would be elected from each of the nation’s 774 local government areas and six Area Councils of the FCT, Abuja making 2,340 delegates in total
However, the figure will change if President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the Electoral Act 2022 Amendment Bill before him, which will allow statutory delegates to participate in the presidential primaries.
The current Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) has no role for statutory delegates at the convention.
Statutory or “Super” delegates are elected councillors, local government chairmen and their vice, party chairmen in the 774 LGAs and six Abuja area councils, state and federal lawmakers, governors and their deputies, president and vice president, NWC 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 rule 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 subsection (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.”
For the presidential primaries, Okechukwu reportedly said: “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.”
New arrangements favours emergence of northern candidate
If President Buhari fails to assent the Electoral Act Amendment before the APC presidential primaries, 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.
The party is yet to zone the ticket and indications show that the contest would be thrown open.
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 that 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 has 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, 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 and 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 of Bello or Lawan could pick the prized ticket.
Already both aspirants are waxing strong and receiving support from many parts of the country. Bello, recently, said he is ready for any format or mode of primary – Direct, Indirect or Consensus, saying he is the candidate to beat among the crowd of aspirants in APC.
Zonal breakdown of APC delegates
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
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