The refusal of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sign the Electoral Act amendment bill that would have permitted statutory delegates to vote has altered the voting strength of some states, The PUNCH can confirm.
Section 12.1 of the All Progressives Congress constitution says members of the national convention shall include members of the board of trustees, national chairman and all members of the national executive committee, serving and past presidents, vice presidents, serving and past governors and deputy governors who are members of the party, serving and former members of the National Assembly, members of the state working committees, all local government chairmen along with three elected delegates from each of the 774 local government areas.
This came to the fore on Monday as the party again shifted it senatorial primary from May 26 to May 27.
With the President’s refusal to sign the bill, the number of delegates has dropped from 7, 800 to about 2, 340. The 2,340 consist of three delegates from each of the 774 local governments in the country and six area councils in Abuja.
The PUNCH observed that Lagos, which has one of the largest number of statutory delegates due to its large number of APC public officials, will now be left with 60 delegates because it has just 20 local government areas.
Lagos, which ideally should have 304 delegates, was in the top five only behind Kano, Katsina, Borno and Osun. However, with only 60 delegates, Lagos is now 19th.
Also, states that have a low APC membership or that are governed by the Peoples Democratic Party but have a large number of local governments will now have an advantage over Lagos.
For instance, Akwa Ibom which has 31 LGAs, Oyo which has 33 LGAs and Rivers and Sokoto which both have 23 LGAs each, will now have more delegates at the presidential primary than Lagos.
Borno, which should have the third highest number of delegates due to its large number of serving and former elected APC members, will now have a lower number of delegates than Akwa Ibom and Oyo because it has 27 LGAs. Essentially, Borno has also fallen from having the third highest number of delegates to having the fifth highest.
However, The PUNCH observed that Kano, Katsina and Osun retained their lead by virtue of the large number of local government areas that they possess. Kano, which has 44 LGAs will have 132 delegates while Katsina with 34 LGAs will have 102 elected delegates. This also applies to Osun State which has 30 LGAs and will thus have 90 delegates.
The PUNCH learnt that 15 states combined have the total strength to determine the outcome of the presidential election. They are Kano (132), Katsina (102), Akwa Ibom (93), Oyo (99), Osun (90), Jigawa (81), Imo (81), Borno (81), Delta (75), Rivers (69), Sokoto (69), Benue (66), Anambra (63), Adamawa (63) and Kebbi (62) with a combined 1, 224 delegates.
In a chat with The PUNCH, the APC chieftain in Lagos State, Chief Joe Igbokwe, said it was unfortunate that Lagos had fallen on the pecking order due to the exclusion of statutory delegates.
Igbokwe said he was confident that the party would look into the matter with a view to making adjustments.
He, however, said he was confident that Bola Tinubu would emerge victorious regardless of the calculation.
“Lagos is too important to be put in such a position because of the exclusion of statutory delegates. We are hopeful that the party will look into the matter. But we are not perturbed. We are confident that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will win. There is a lot of gang up against the man but he is the only one that can win the election for the APC. Igbokwe said.
States will not be properly represented at presidential primary – BUK professor
On his part, a political Analyst and Professor of Political Science at Bayero University Kano, Kamilu Fage, said the new system had taken away the advantage the executive enjoyed.
Fage, however, admitted that the new system might not offer a fair representation of the states at the presidential primary.
“You will see that based on the number of local government per state some will have high number of delegates while some will have very low. States may not be properly represented based on this,” he stated.
The professor argued that all hope was not lost for aspirants, noting that the highest bidder among them would emerge as the party’s standard bearer.
Also APC chieftain, Dr. Osita Okechukwu, said the new system of using only ad hoc delegates would not stop the most popular aspirant from emerging victorious.
Okechukwu, who is the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, said the party had not yet decided on the mode of primaries it would adopt, adding that the APC could also use direct or the consensus method.
He added, “The party has not told us which mode they want to adopt. So, it then means that the issue of whether section 84 was signed into law has as an impact. So the options are very open. But even if they do indirect, it is even in the interest of the candidates that you have a fewer delegates to contend with. I think so myself. Whichever way you look at it, if you have fewer delegates to contend with, it is better for you.
“The fact that a given state has a larger number of delegates does not mean that that number cannot go to someone from another state.”
Responding, Osun APC Director of Publicity and Strategy, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said the party’s Presidential primary was basically an issue based on the dictates of the law.
Attempts to get a response from the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, proved abortive as he did not respond to calls on Monday.
Meanwhile, The PUNCH learnt that Buhari will on Wednesday meet the 25 Presidential aspirants. The meeting is expected to take place a day after the Presidential screening at the party which takes place on Tuesday (today).
Sunday PUNCH had reported that the President would be meeting all of the aspirants this week with a view to fostering unity and promoting a consensus.
On Monday, The PUNCH confirmed that the meeting will take place on Wednesday.
It was learnt that the party would be open to refunding money spent by some aspirants that step down.
“The president will be meeting with all the aspirants on Wednesday. It has become imperative for the presidency to plead with them to settle for the party’s consensus candidate,” said a party source.
On Monday the APC National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Argungu, said the postponement of the screening became necessary as the screening panel had not been constituted.
This is even as the national organising secretary disclosed that a seven-man panel, comprising a member from each of the six geo-political zones, would be set up by the National Working Committee to undertake the screening.While his excuse for the screening postponement may appear tenable, a source in the secretariat told our correspondent that the said constitution of screening panels is just a smoke screen.According to him, it is part of the grand plan of the party to put its house and compel the presidential aspirants to buy into proposed consensus talks.
Again, Reps postpone resumption over parties’ primaries
In a related development, the House of Representatives has postponed its resumption of plenary by two week, till June 7, 2022. The chamber was to resume on Tuesday.
Clerk to the House, Dr Yahaya Danzaria, in a terse notice issued on Monday, said the postponement was due to the ongoing primaries being held by political parties to elect candidates for the 2023 general elections.
Danzaria said, “I am directed to inform all honourable members, staff, media and the general public that due to the ongoing party primaries the House will now resume plenary on Tuesday, 7th June, 2022 at 11:00am.”
APC adjust primaries timetable again
The APC for the umpteenth time has revised the timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship, state House of Assembly, Senate and House of Representatives Primary Elections.
The development comes a day after the National Working Committee postponed the screening of the presidential screening exercise.
The revised timetable was announced by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, on Monday night on Wednesday at the APC Secretariat in Abuja.
Morka stated that the recently cleared 145 governorship and State House of Assembly aspirants will test their popularity at the primaries that will be determined by state and local government delegates respectively on Thursday, May 26.
On Friday, May 27, the 340 senatorial aspirants who recently got a clean bill of health at the party screening will undergo another litmus test to win the votes of their local government delegates.
The last primary, which involved the House of Representatives aspirants will be determined by local government delegates on Saturday, May 28.
On the special convention for the Presidential Primary, Morka disclosed that “It will be held as scheduled on Sunday, 29th – Monday, 30th of May, 2022.”
Daily News Reporters