- Brags Meeting Beating Others to INEC Deadline
By Ahmed Ayanfe
In an apparent mockery of some other frontline contestants in the 2023 presidential election who were unable to choose their vice-presidential running mates before the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has said the first and most important decision that any candidate for an executive position in a democracy must make is the choice of a running mate.
In a statement he signed, Atiku said the office of the president in particular requires that the holder of that office must have clarity of mind on decision-making.
“That is why in countries that have acquired more experiences in democratic acculturation, the choice that a presidential candidate makes about their running mates, and how they make the decision, provides a window of assessing their preparedness for the job that potentially waits ahead of them.”
According to Atiku, in meeting up with this expectation, and more importantly to ensure that he makes a pick of a running mate that Nigerians shall be proud of, it became necessary for him to be introspective about his choice.
He continued, “Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa and I share a lot of personality attributes in common. He is a fine gentleman, but tenacious. His experience as a Senator will come in handy in some of the legislative reforms that are urgently needed to reformat our governmental processes.
“Ifeanyi and I are incurable optimists in the future of Nigeria and the promises it holds as one united, peaceful and prosperous country.
“Having him on the ticket brings a lot of assets to our campaign. In the months ahead to the general election, together with other great leaders of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party and, with your esteemed support, we shall work very hard to ensure convincing victory for our party.
“A victory for the PDP in the general election is a victory for Nigeria. When we win, Nigeria wins. The stakes in the election are very high, and it gives me tremendous joy that I can count on your support to win the election and get to work in earnest.”, Atiku stated.
The APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and his Labour counterpart, Peter Obi have chosen placeholders because of their inability to choose their preferred presidential running mate.
While Tinubu picked Usman Masari and Obi chose Doyin Okupe. They have a 30-day window to replace them.
The development has stirred reactions and divergent opinions among citizens on whether the concept of ‘placeholder’ is allowed in Nigeria’s electoral system.
Meanwhile, reacting to the concept of ‘placeholder’, popular human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong noted that the novel concept of a “placeholder” that some presidential candidates are resorting to is unknown to the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“When a name is submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as vice presidential candidate, the name’s bearer automatically and legally becomes the vice presidential candidate of that political party, simpliciter.” He said.
However, an Abuja-based lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, submitted that anyone nominated as a running mate in placeholder capacity, has the right of withdrawal.
In a statement by the legal practitioner on Sunday, he dismissed a write up where the writer maintained that a running mate has no right of withdrawal in the extant electoral law.
The statement read, “My attention has been drawn to a statement wherein it is maintained that a running mate has no right of withdrawal in our extant Electoral law.
This is purely erroneous, and a fallacy that cannot stand and not supported by any provisions of our law and practice.”
Citing section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022 that states thus;
“A candidate may withdraw his candidature by notice in writing signed by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for such election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.”
The above provision also applies to the so-called placeholder.
A placeholder in the political context under consideration is any person temporarily nominated to fill a position, with the understanding that he/she will not seek the office nominated for in their own right pending when a substantive nominee is presented as a substitute. It is primarily done to meet a deadline.
It is allowed in party politics and guides the administrative process.