- It may not be over for presidential candidates of some political parties who have nominated placeholder running mates ahead of 2023
- This is as some top INEC ex-directors have explained that in the event that such surrogates refuse to step down, the flagbearers may lose their candidature
- The INEC former chiefs warned that this may be the case when those picked as placeholders are not qualified for the role
The nomination of placeholders by presidential candidates of political parties in Nigeria to secure a spot for running mates might come at a very high cost not initially bargained for.
This was the warning issued by some former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) directors and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
During separate interviews with The Punch on Monday, June 20, the former principal staff of the commission and the SANs noted that presidential candidates might lose their tickets if they pick unqualified placeholders who later refuse to step down as earlier agreed.
In fact, they cautioned that such parties and their flagbearers stand a chance of forfeiting their tickets.
PAY ATTENTION: Subscribe to Digital Talk newsletter to receive must-know business stories and succeed BIG!
So far, parties that seem to find themselves in this position are the All Progressives Congress (APC) which has reportedly chosen Alhaji Kabir Ibrahim Masari as Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu's placeholder running mate, and the Labour Party (LP) which recently announced Doyin Okupe as Peter Obi's deputy (in a rather tentative mode) ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Using a placeholder has consequences
Speaking on this, Prof Lai Olurode, an ex-national commissioner of INEC, said:
“The new Electoral Act allows that, except that there are days within which you must submit names of your real candidate otherwise, you will forfeit the opportunity.”
Substantiating this position, Adegoke Rasheed (SAN) added:
“Using a placeholder has an implication. The electoral act requires that before a candidate can be replaced or substituted he withdraws or resigns voluntarily; the age of substituting by fiat is gone. I want to believe that such a placeholder will yield to the party’s decision.
“The INEC can’t wade into this, it is an intra-party issue. The court of law cannot help in the matter, in fact going to court by such a political party will lead to the party invalidating his candidature. There’s no provision for a placeholder in the law but a party can do it, it doesn’t constitute an infringement of the law. Except if he dies or withdraws or resigns a placeholder can’t be replaced.”
Labour Party picks Peter Obi's running mate
Recall that Okupe had been selected as the “placeholder” vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party.
Okupe confirmed the development to journalists on Friday, June 17.
Speaking to newsmen on his emergence, Okupe said:
“I stand in as the vice-presidential candidate of the party. Labour party has submitted my name as the VP of the party."