THREE-time Governorship candidate of People’s Redemption Party, PRP, in Delta State, Engr. Emmanuel Igbini; and National Chairman of the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Julius Abure, have described as fallacious and misleading the claim by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that placeholders for running mates or any position was illegal in the country’s electoral process.
They argued that placeholder was constitutional, citing Sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, as amended, saying it was in the 2006 and 2010 electoral laws.
Igbini told Vanguard: “I want to say that all names submitted so far to INEC as candidates for 2023 elections are ‘placeholders.’
“As a political activist and a three-time governorship candidate, I am compelled to react to the recent claim by the INEC through its National Commissioner, Dr. Festus Okoye, that there is no provision in the Nigerian Constitution and Legal Framework for what is now described as ‘placeholders’ in Nigeria’s electoral process, specifically as it concerns submission, change or substitution of names of candidates for general elections by registered political parties.
“This claim by INEC is a fundamental falsehood deliberately made by it to mislead Nigerian voters and to cast aspersion on some political parties like the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Labour Party, which publicly disclosed that the names they submitted to INEC as their vice presidential candidates were meant only to beat the June 17, 2022 date set by the INEC.
“This means that they may change or substitute within the window provided by sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, as amended. Contrary to the INEC’s claim, I wish to state unequivocally that actions taken by APC and LP are constitutional and in line with sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, as amended.
“The use of the word ‘placeholder’ is merely misinterpreted by INEC. Placeholder simply means that it is not substantive but temporarily standing in for something or someone else. The word is used in solving algebraic expression and equations in mathematics.
“Let me also inform Nigerians that the idea of changing or substituting candidates for general elections was in our electoral laws of 2006, and 2010 and now 2022, as amended.
“Furthermore, it is imperative for me to inform Nigerians that changing or substituting candidates for elections is not limited to only vice presidential candidates as we now seem to focus on.
“In fact, all names so far submitted by political parties to INEC as presidential, vice presidential, senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates are all ‘placeholders’ and can be changed or substituted before 90 days to date of election, after which, no change or substitution is allowed except case of death of a candidate.
“For avoidance of doubt, see sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.
“Section 29 (1) states: “Every political party shall not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act, submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections who must have emerged from a valid primaries conducted by the political party.
“(2) The List or Information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an Affidavit sworn to by each candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a State, or Federal Capital Territory High Court indicating that he or she has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office.
“Section 31 states: “A candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.
“Section 33 states: “A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under Section 29 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate: provided that in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall, within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, hold a fresh primary election to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the Commission for the election concerned.”
“In conclusion, APC and LP have not acted against the Constitution and Electoral Act of Nigeria,” Igbini asserted.
LP didn’t breach the law — Abure
Speaking in like manner, Mr. Julius Abure said the LP did not flout any law by submitting the name of Dr Doyin Okupe as its stand-in vice presidential candidate to Mr. Peter Obi pending the conclusion of consultation on a replacement.
“The INEC is wrong in saying there is no place for placeholders in our electoral laws. There is room for substitution candidates in our electoral law. Through sections 29 and 33 of the Electoral Act a political party has the right to substitute a candidate if the candidate withdraws.”
To beat the June 17 deadline for the submission of presidential and vice presidential candidates, some parties submitted names of vice-presidential candidates who they described as placeholders.
The ruling APC, and LP were caught in the web of placeholder running mates
In the APC, Kabiru Masari, the party’s welfare secretary was named as the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Some APC leaders said Masari is a “placeholder”, adding that a final candidate would be named.
Indeed, sources told Vanguard, that Masari had signed a withdrawal form and would not constitute a problem when told to do so.
Former Borno State Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima; Kano State governor, Umar Ganduje; and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, are said to be top among those being considered as Tinubu’s running mate.
In like manner, Dr Doyin Okupe announced that he would be “standing in as the vice-presidential candidate” of Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour party standard bearer.
The LP is in talks with Senator Musa Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party; and former INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega of the Peoples Redemption Party, among others, for an alliance.
If that happens, Okupe would give way for another person as LP vice presidential candidate. Parties have up to July 17 to substitute candidates.