WITH uncertainty surrounding President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as recently transmitted to him by the National Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is poised to conduct its national convention with just 811 delegates.
This move is to avoid running foul of the act and to ensure it remains within the timeframe specified for the submission of elective offices candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The party’s national convention has been scheduled for May 28-29.
The main opposition party commenced the conduct of the primaries to nominate its candidates for the 2023 general election on Sunday across the country.
The Sunday primaries were for the purpose of electing its state House of Assembly and House of Representatives candidates while primaries for its senatorial candidates took place across the country on Monday, May 23, 2022. Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act, 2022, provides that delegates to vote at the indirect primaries and national convention of political parties to elect candidates for elections shall be those democratically elected for that purpose only.
Only one person can be elected as a national delegate from each local government area of the country, making it 774 in line with the total number of local government areas in the country.
Additionally, one person with disability is also nominated per state and the Federal Capital Territory, bringing the total delegates expected to vote at the national convention to 811.
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The delegates emerged during the local government area congress conducted by the party on Tuesday, May 10.
The PDP earlier announced that it would make use of only the three-man ad-hoc delegates elected from all the over 8,000 wards in the country and one elected national delegate per local government to pick its election candidates.
However, under the PDP’s constitution, the three-man ad-hoc ward delegates can only participate in the election of candidates for State, National Assembly and gubernatorial positions and not participate in the national convention.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Honourable Debo Ologunagba, confirmed that the party will stick to the elected delegates in the conduct to the primaries and national convention in order to operate within the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“We will follow the law. Simple. And we have started following the law,” he told the Nigerian Tribune.
PDP’s position came amid confusion as to whether President Buhari would sign the Electoral Act Amendment.
Reports had emerged at the weekend that he may have already assented to it just as the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Jide Omoworare, told the Nigerian Tribune that the president “should have signed” when he was asked to confirm the development.
However, this turned out not to be the case. The Nigerian Tribune reports that the amendment is crucial to the participation of statutory delegates at the primaries and national convention of political parties.
They had been excluded from voting and being voted for during the exercises in the previous amendment signed into law by the president. This caused the National Assembly to hurriedly pass the latest amendment as the political parties began the process of conducting their primaries and convention to elect their state, national assembly, governorship and presidential candidates.
The statutory delegates of political parties may already have been excluded finally from the exercises as President Buhari has missed the necessary timeframe that would have qualified them for the 2023 general election.