With clear signs that President Muhammadu Buhari has no plan whatsoever to sign the amendment to Section 84(8) of Electoral Act 2022 sent to him by the National Assembly last week, the statutory delegates pushed out by the Act have turned out to be the biggest losers in the intense political game.
Section 84(8) recognizes 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 Senate and the House of Representatives had last week passed the amendment to the Act to recognise statutory delegates as voters during primaries, congresses and conventions of all the political parties.
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.
So, statutory delegates, including elected councillors, local government chairmen and their deputies, party chairmen in local government areas, state and federal lawmakers (current and former), governors and their deputies, President and Vice- President, National Working Committee members, state party chairmen and secretaries, are no longer voters at the primaries.
The largesse they had been enjoying from all the aspirants at various levels seeking their votes – presidential, governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and states’ House of Assembly – has come to an end.
Many are struggling to face the reality and hoping that the President will still sign the amendment by next Monday.
But analysts countered this, saying, “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.”
A source told THISDAY last night that the APC had 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.
Culled from THISDAY