• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Explainer: How number of delegates from each state is decided

Interrogating the prodigal son’s option

As preparation for the 2023 general election in Nigeria intensifies, political parties are expected to conclude the conduct of their primaries ahead of the June 3, deadline given to them by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the submission of candidates.

The primaries, particularly in the two leading parties- All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – are expected to be keenly contested among the leading aspirants, partly due to the winner-takes-all kind of politics played in Nigeria.

How delegates are picked

In Nigeria, there are two types of delegates: the ad-hoc and the statutory.

The ad-hoc delegates are picked by holding congresses in the wards across the country. The process involves party members choosing people who will vote on their behalf in the party’s governorship or presidential primary election.

The two major parties, the PDP and the APC have concluded congresses to elect their ad-hoc delegates, although many of the congresses are said to be controversial.

In most instances, the National Executive Committees (NECs), the highest organ of political parties, determine the mode of these congresses.

After the delegates are selected, a convention is held to enable them decide on who will fly the party’s gubernatorial or presidential flag.

Meanwhile, there are statutory delegates who some people call automatic delegates. They are party members who are currently serving public office holders, ward councillors, local government chairmen and their vices and political party chairmen in all the 774 LGAs.

Others are; current and former presidents, governors, deputy governors, as well as members of the National and state House of Assembly.

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.

Why states get different number of delegates

According to the 2022 Electoral Act as amended, these delegates emerge from internal elections of the party conducted in each of the local governments, participated by the members of the party.

If it is for presidential primaries, the electoral-college (delegates list) comprises ad-hoc delegates elected across the local governments in the country.

For the governorship primaries, the electoral-college (delegates list) comprises ad-hoc delegates elected across the wards in the state. That is, based on the specified number in the party’s constitution or guidelines multiplied by the number of local governments that exist in each state.

This also indicates that the delegates list would not be overcrowded since the ‘super or statutory delegates’ would not be allowed to vote.

For example, presently in the PDP in Lagos State, only one delegate is authorised from each of the twenty local government areas, plus one physically-challenged individual, meaning that the state would have 21 elected delegates for the primaries.

Similarly, the APC guidelines in Lagos State permit three ad-hoc national delegates from each local government for the presidential primaries; Lagos has 20 local governments. This means that the total number of delegates that would participate in their presidential primaries would be 60 from Lagos. States with more local governments, such as Kano, would have more delegates.

This also indicates that the delegates’ list would not be overcrowded since the super or statutory delegates would not be allowed to vote.

Read also: Election season and broken promises

Experts’ view

Amid the controversy that has evoked the polity over the National Assembly amendment of the 2022 Electoral Act to accommodate statutory delegates from voting in the primaries, pundits say that the idea of statutory delegates is undemocratic and is not known in advanced democracy.

Kunle Okunade, political analyst and scholar, said the idea of a statutory delegates was wrong, stressing that in the western countries statutory delegates do not participate in the process because the members of the parties had already parted their voting right to the Ad-hoc delegates whom they voted for in a special congress/election to choose the party’s candidates.

“The statutory delegates in a sane clime ought not to participate in the process, for the sake of prudence, avoidance of money bags, corruption and credibility, the ad-hoc delegates should only be allowed to choose who would fly the party’s ticket in an electoral college,” Okunade said.

Why selection of statutory delegate is controversial

The 2022 amended Electoral Act signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently, prevents statutory delegates from taking part in party primaries.

According to Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Amendment Act, a political party that adopts indirect primaries for the selection of its candidates shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates.

The delegates, according to the Act, are to vote at the convention, congress or meeting, in addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the constitution of the party.

Consequently, to change the situation ahead of the primaries, the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, last week in an emergency session swiftly moved to amend 84(8) of the 2022 Electoral Act to allow statutory delegates participate and vote in party conventions, congresses and meetings.

The lawmakers said the initial provision which allowed only elected delegates of a party to participate in conventions and congresses was an error. However, in the last few days, the refusal of President Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act has continued to generate ripples in the polity ahead of the party primaries.