Alleged Effort To Screen Out Some Governorship Aspirants
THE rumour mill has revealed an attempt by a local committee to screen out some notable aspirants from contesting the forthcoming governorship primary election in Edo State under the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ordinarily, this rumour should have been ignored. However, it’s well known that in every rumour there may be an element of truth. In light of this, it’s necessary to speak to the legal issues raised by such alleged attempt to shut out some aspirants from the nomination process.
For those who may not know, the nomination of candidates for election to any elective position under the Nigerian Constitution including the position of Governor of a State is beyond the dictates of a political party. It’s a serious matter which is well regulated by law. In particular, section 84 of the Electoral Act makes express provisions on the procedure for conduct of primary election, including primary election for the position of Governor. The section requires that ALL ASPIRANTS who are members of a political party must be given the opportunity to contest for primary election, whether direct or indirect primary election. The only exception is where all aspirants agree in writing to support a single aspirant as the consensus candidate.
The implications of the foregoing are:
1. All party members are eligible to contest primary election for the purpose of being sponsored as candidate of the political party for any elective position in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2. In the particular case of the APC, all its aspirants seeking nomination as Governorship candidate are eligible to contest the forthcoming primary election holding in February, 2024.
3. All such aspirants are entitled to purchase the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms of the APC. No aspirant can be prevented from contesting the primary election.
4. No screening committee by whatever name called can disqualify or screen out any aspirant before or after purchase of nomination form. Such attempt will be a gross violation of the provision of section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022, and therefore unlawful.
5. Under the new Electoral Act 2022, no aspirant can emerge as a consensus candidate without the written consent of all aspirants. This particular provision is what saved the aspiration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu against the machinations of those who wanted to impose Senator Ahmad Lawan as the (consensus) candidate of the APC in the last presidential election.
Consequently, it’s urged that all aspirants who wish to contest the primary election for nomination as the candidate of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State should ignore any effort to obstruct their aspiration to contest the governorship primary election under the APC. They should instead proceed to purchase the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms without further delay. They’ve between 10th January to 29th January, 2024 to do so.
If they fail to purchase the forms within the set deadline, they will be shut out permanently and would have no cause whatsoever to complain of being denied the opportunity to contest the primary election as prescribed in section 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022.