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APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu

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.”


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THERE is growing concern in the All Progressives Congress over the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which nullified the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, for the 2022 Osun State governorship election. 

Ruling on a suit filed by the People’s Democratic Party challenging the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submission of the PDP on the grounds that Governor Mai Mala Buni who submitted their names to INEC violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022. 

The court declared that Governor Mai Mala Buni acted in contravention of the provision of Section 183 of the Constitution when he held dual executive positions as the Governor of Yobe State and the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of APC. 

The provisions of Section 183 read in part: “The Governor, shall not, during the period he holds office, holds any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever.” 

While the legal representatives of Osun State governor had promised to appeal the ruling, its implication, is already causing panic in the ruling party.

According to legal opinions on the issue, the ruling in its current subsisting nature, means that all actions of Buni while in office as APC acting boss, stand invalidated. 

These actions, include the signing of the nomination of Ekiti governor-elect Abiodun Oyebanji, as APC candidate for the June 18, 2022 poll in the state, the nominations of candidates for other outlier legislative polls, as well as the conduct of the party’s elective national convention which gave birth to the current NWC, among others. 

The biggest threat posed by the ruling to APC, is the possible consequential disqualification of all its candidates for the 2023 poll, including the presidential ticket of Senator Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, considering that Adamu’s NWC, conducted the primaries. 

Once the NWC is invalidated by the reason of Buni’s involvement, all actions of the NWC, would be deemed null and void. 

Reacting to the unfolding legal drama, constitutional lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, said “It is a plague that could have been avoided if only they took my position on Governor Buni’s chairmanship misadventures serious. But the judgement has vindicated me.” 

In an earlier statement, dated July 31, 2021, he warned that the party could come to greater grief if Buni stayed, considering the subtle warning in the favourable majority decision. 

On Saturday, Ajulo referenced the statement which read in part; “Without prejudice to the ratio decidendi of the majority decision of the Court, it is imperative to state pressistimo and very clearly too that with the unanimous position of the Apex Court that it appears the actions of the APC in permitting a sitting Governor as the Interim Chairman of the Party is in violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is my sincere view that the Interim Chairman of the APC should immediately step down. My humble but cosmic review of the judgment comes with an indication that the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni has to vacate his seat, as the Chairman of APC with immediate effect.” 

Breaking down the implication of the Friday ruling, he said if the apex court goes with the decision of the high court, the current National Executive of the party, will have to go. 

“If the Supreme Court upheld the judgment, the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and other APC candidates for every elective position will have no business in participating in the 2023 General Election. 

“Can one put something on nothing and expect it to stand? Unless some strategic steps are quickly taken, invalidation of the party’s executives and candidates across all levels will be a great disaster to the APC and could mark its total collapse. This development is a stern warning to politicians to henceforth have regards for law and reasoned thoughts,” he reasoned. 

But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Felix Morka, a lawyer, dismissed the fears being expressed as misplaced. 

Speaking with Sunday Tribune in an interview, Morka expressed confidence that the judgment of the High Court would be set aside by the Court of Appeal. 

He maintained that Justice Nwite erred in his pronouncement. 

He said:” The judgment of the Court is unsupportable. We are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn the judgment. 

“It isn’t supportable by fact of law. What the Governor Buni Caretaker did was ratified by Convention, which is the highest organ of the Party. The Court didn’t avert itself to the fact of the matter.

“So, there is nothing to worry about. That decision will be challenged and we are confident that the Court of Appeal will upturn it.” 

In the Friday ruling, the court, headed by Justice Emeka Nwite, sided with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which initiated the suit, primarily to disqualify Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, as the candidate of the ruling party in the July 16, 2022 governorship election in the state, eventually won PDP’s candidate, Ademola Adeleke. 

But the suit, commenced on April 7, 2022 may be doing a more significant damage to the fortunes of the ruling party, across board, with the trial judge upholding the argument that all Buni’s actions in office as the party’s acting chair, were null and void. 

The party chair, alongside the national secretary, by the dictates of the election laws, signs the nomination of every candidate of the party, before such could be deemed valid, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

With Justice Nwite ruling that Buni, being governor, should not have held another executive position as the acting chair of the party for two years less 25 days. 

It will be recalled that Buni, the sitting governor of Yobe State, was sworn in as the acting chairman of the party by the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, following the controversial ouster of an elected National Working Committee, chaired by former Edo governor, Adams Oshiomhole, by President Muhammadu Buhari-inspired National Executive Council. 

Justice Nwite’s ruling, however, appears in dissonance with the majority decision of the Supreme Court in the appeal arising from Ondo governorship election of October 9, 2020, won by the incumbent Rotimi Akeredolu of APC. 

In a razor-thin split decision which favoured him, the apex court held that the conduct of the primary election and nomination of candidates, is an internal affair of a political party, which the judiciary can’t scrutinise. 

The majority decision went further in resolving the appeal brought by Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP that even when a political party is in error of its rules, its internal activities can’t still be challenged. The minority report how- ever ruled that Buni’s acting headship of the ruling party, was an incurable constitutional error, which invalidated Akeredolu’s nomination as the party’s candidate, because it was signed and passed to INEC by Buni. 

The minority decision of three justices, out of the seven that heard the appeal, had invalidated Akeredolu’s election victory, because of Buni. While the majority decision didn’t go fully into the con- stitutionality of Buni holding two executive positions at the same time, it ruled that not joining the governor as a necessary party, to argue his case directly, weighed in his favour and by extension, Akeredolu’s. 

The judgement was given on July 28, 2021. Immediately the judgement was delivered, some top party leaders asked Buni to step down, including Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo. Buni, aided by his legal team, heavily backed by the deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege, spurned the call. 

Keyamo now speaks for Tinubu’s presidential campaign, while serving as minister. Possibly taking its cue from the stance of the majority ruling, PDP, this time, joined Buni as a necessary party in the suit, which was filed almost nine months after Akeredolu’s narrow judicial escape. 

Buni, being joined as a necessary party, must have also emboldened Justice Nwite to go into the merit of the suit, despite the subsisting Supreme Court precedent. 

With the appeal arising from the all-important suit expected to advance to the apex court, an opportunity would finally be presented to Buni, to defend himself, and the final court to decide whether he violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, by accepting the acting appointment while serving as governor.

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  • North accounts for over 90% of the affected communities

*DSS explains roles in ensuring election security

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may be under constraint to conduct 2023 elections in over 686 communities under the atrocious activities of armed non-state actors across the federation, our reporter’s findings have revealed.

The findings also revealed that the affected communities and wards cut across 90 local government areas (LGAs) and 18 states of the federation.President Muhammadu Buhari had directed security agencies to ensure stability before December 31.

Concerned civil society actors conversant with the undertaking of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Electoral Security (ICCES) anonymously shared intelligence about the country’s election security with THISDAY at the weekend.

INEC had expressed grave concerns over the 2023 elections. However, security agencies had played down the apprehension of the electoral umpire about the country’s unsafe territories for the conduct of the 2023 elections.

The commission had consequently been meeting the country’s security community under the auspices of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure security and stability during the polls slated for February 25 and March 11, 2023.

Despite its initiative to ensure a stable security environment before the 2023 general election, investigations by our reporter showed that the electoral commission might not be able to conduct elections in “over 686 communities across the federation.”Concerned about the country’s worsening security conditions, the civil society actors found out that the north “is more affected when compared with the south. Of the 686 affected communities, 618 were identified in the north alone.”

By implication, the findings indicated that the north alone “accounts for 90.1 per cent of the unsafe communities.The findings further showed that challenge “is minimal in the south,” putting the total number of the affected communities at 68.In the entire south, the findings revealed that there “are 68 communities where candidates will not be able to campaign or where the INEC cannot conduct any election. The communities represent about 9.09 per cent.”

Of these 680 communities nationwide, according to the findings, 336 were identified in the North-west alone. Of the 336 in the North-west, 200 are in Zamfara State alone. Obviously, Zamfara is now the country’s unsafest state.

The findings said: “In the North-east, 168 communities were identified. Of this number, Gombe is the only state where no community or ward is listed as part of the unsafe territory in the North-east. In Borno State, there are about 79 wards where elections may not be held.

“In North-central, 114 wards are affected. These are mainly located in Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau. Benue and Kogi are not included in the list of these communities. If we have 10 communities in Ondo State, there is no way Kogi will not be affected because ISWAP insurgents are from Kogi State.“In the South-east, 55 communities have been identified as red zones. These are mainly in Abia, Anambra and Imo States. Ebonyi and Enugu states are excluded from the list of troubled communities,” the findings revealed.

In the South-west, the findings claimed that at least 10 communities are identified in Ondo State, especially in Owo LGA, Ose LGA and their environs.The findings attributed the case of Ondo State “to its proximity to Kogi State, where ISWAP insurgents have penetrated.”

The findings put the number of communities affected in the South-south at three, which are all located in Rivers State.Explaining its roles in ensuring the country’s election security yesterday, the Department of State Services (DSS) acknowledged its synergy with the INEC.The DSS, through its Public Relations Officer, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “It works through its ICCES domiciled in INEC to ensure adequate security and order for the elections.“ICCES comprises security agencies and the electoral body and meets regularly, share information and proactively makes necessary interventions.”

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)

Ahead of next year’s general elections, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday, promised Nigerians that he would ensure free and fair elections come 2023

In his last independence day speech as president, Buhari said he had been a “victim of unfair electoral processes” in the past, as a result he would bequeath a robust electoral institution that would ensure the emergence of credible leaders.

He also called for more youth and women participation in the electoral cycle.

He said, “Having witnessed at close quarters, the pains, anguish and disappointment of being a victim of an unfair electoral process, the pursuit of an electoral system and processes that guarantee election of leaders by citizens remains the guiding light as I prepare to wind down our administration.

“It is for this reason that I have resolved to bequeath a sustainable democratic culture which will remain lasting. The signing of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended with landmark provisions, further assures us of a more transparent and inclusive electoral process.”

He promised that the success recorded in the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections will be scaled up come 2023.

“You would all agree that the recent elections in the past two years in some states notably Anambra, Ekiti and Osun and a few federal constituencies have shown a high degree of credibility, transparency and freedom of choice with the people’s votes actually counting. This I promise would be improved upon as we move towards the 2023 general elections,” he said.

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