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PDP’s Definition Of Elected Delegates: What The Laws Actually Say

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It’s no longer news that Nigeria’s electoral system is facing a serious legal crisis as the federal lawmakers shut themselves in the foot by hastily drafted that vague Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended). Section 84(8) of the Act did not contemplate unelected Delegates to vote at the party conventions and congresses. The section specially provides that: “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline in its constitution and rule the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting.”

The intendment of the framers of the Act is that any political party who wants to adopt indirect primary must provide in its constitution or rules, a procedure to elect delegates who will be qualified to vote at the party primaries. Already PDP has a constitution which clearly outlined the procedures to vote for all its delegates to the Congresses and conventions.

Articles 15(1) & (2) (e), 18(1) & (2) (a) & (c), 25(1) & (2) (c) and 33 provide for Ward, LGA, State Congresses and the National Convention as well as their functions. These are elected party officials who are the delegates to the various conventions and congresses as contemplated by the Electoral Act, 2022. Just as the Electoral Act mentioned “delegates” to vote at party primaries, the PDP Constitution also referred to its elected party officials as delegates. See Article 25(5)(a), 6(a) and 7(a).

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Now let’s get to the confusion. Is there anything like statutory delegates in the PDP Constitution or the Electoral Act? The answer is no. Section 84(8) only referred to the eligible voters at the party primaries as “delegates”. In the same vein, the PDP Constitution only recognised officials amongst others as delegates. Thus, section 67(2)(k) of the PDP Constitution defined delegates to mean “Elected or nominated representatives of the Party at any level of the structures of the Party.” Now the question to ask whether the National Working Committee (NWC) members of the Party, Zonal Party Executive members, State Working Committee members, LGA Party Executive members and the five Ward Executive members of the Party are delegates? The answer is in the affirmative. The word, “Delegates”did only referred to the ad hoc delegates.

On whether ad hoc and National delegates are the only Delegates of the Party elected for the purpose of voting at the Party primaries? The answer to the above question is provided under Articles 15(2) (e), 18(2) (a) & (c), 25(2) (c) and 33(2), (3), (4) & (5).

Flowing from the above legal points enunciated above, any decision of the Party to exclude the other elected delegates from voting at the various Party primaries will spell doom for the PDP. Such will only amount to an unlawful exclusion of eligible voters which will cost the party of its victory if being challenged by the disenfranchised Delegates. The decision of the NWC is contrary to the provisions of the Party Constitution which is superior to every decision making organ of the Party and same is having binding force on all members and organs of the Party. See Article 2 of the Party Constitution.

In conclusion, I advise PDP NWC to immediately correct the blunder it’s about to commit. Some of the Aggrieved or unlawfully disenfranchised Delegates may go to court and that will spell doom for the fortunes of the Party in the general elections in 2023.

From Alaowei E. Cleric, Esq.

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