By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, ASABA
The FORMER governorship candidate of Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, in Delta State, Emmanuel Igbini, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of misinforming Nigerians about the change and substitution of vice president and deputy governorship candidates by presidential and governorship candidates.
Igbini, an engineer and activist, in an interview with Vanguard, dismissed the latest claim by INEC that current presidential and governorship candidates for the 2023 general elections have the constitutional power to change and substitute the running mates they nominated and submitted to INEC on June 17.
He said: “This is very wrong, misleading and capable of causing more crises in our march to credible and peaceful 2023 general elections.
“The wrong and very dangerous impression being created by INEC is that any of these current presidential or governorship candidates has the constitutional power to wake up before or on July 15, 2022, and July 22, 2022, to change and substitute the vice president or deputy governorship candidate for the election. This is not correct at all.
“No vice presidential candidate or deputy governorship candidate submitted to INEC can be changed or substituted by the political party or the presidential or governorship candidate except through voluntary withdrawal by the candidate in writing, signed by the candidate and the letter personally delivered by the candidate to the political party for onward delivery to INEC for implementation not later than 90 days to the date for the 2023 general elections.”
“I once again strongly disagree with the claim INEC through its Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Mike Igini, to the effect that the current presidential and governorship candidates for 2023 general elections have within the window provided by the Electoral Act 2022, the constitutional power to change the vice-presidential and deputy governorship candidates they nominated and submitted to INEC on June 17, 2022.”
“Mr Igini had said that the current presidential and governorship candidates can change their running mates within the window provided not later than July 15, 2022, because the running mates did not emerge from primaries of political parties, according to section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and that the choice of running mate is at the discretion of the presidential or governorship candidate.
“Permit me to first appreciate Mike Igini for agreeing with my earlier position that the concept of placeholders is legally recognised by Sections 31 and 33 of our Electoral Act, 2022 but without the specific use of the word ‘placeholder’, contrary to the position espoused earlier by a National Commissioner of INEC, declaring that it is not recognised by any legal framework in Nigeria.”
“The process of emergence of all candidates (presidential, vice presidential, governorship, deputy governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly) for general elections in Nigeria are clearly and unambiguously provided in Sections 141, 142, 186 and 187 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, and sections 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.”
“Moreover, the Nigerian Constitution only provides that these two candidates shall be nominated not appointed. These two words do not mean the same thing and there is nowhere in the Constitution where it is stated that they shall be appointed.
“This, therefore, clearly settles any mischief as to the distinct process for the emergence of vice president and deputy governorship candidates which do not in any way suggest that it is by ‘appointment’ as INEC through Mike Igini tries to make Nigerians believe it is.