Following its inability to get the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to adjust the 2023 general election time-table, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has reviewed its own primary election timetable, saying there is no truth in the assertion it had zoned its presidential ticket to any part of the country.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee, NWC, of the party.

The APC hierarchy had side-stepped clamour to zone its presidential ticket to the South on the ground that the current leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, is from the North and the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, is also from the North.

There is a counter-clamour to throw the ticket open to all the six geo-political zones of the country, which seems to be gaining the upper hand.

Among the 23 presidential aspirants still left in the race for the APC ticket, 19 are from the South, while four are from the North.

Among the Southern aspirants, eight are from the South-East that has the least number of delegates; seven are from the South-West; and the South-South has four.

In the North, North-West has two, while North-East and North-Central has one each.

The APC aspirants from South-West are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Senator Ajayi Borrofice, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, Dr Tunde Bakare, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

Those from the South-East are Chief Emeka Nwajiuba, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Engr Dave Umahi, Senator Ken Nnamani, Mr. Nicholas nwagbo, Mr. Ikeobasi Mokelu and Mrs. Uju Ohanenye.

The contenders from the South-South are Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Ben Ayade, and Mr. Tein Jack-Rich.

The aspirants from the North are Alhaji Yahaya Bello (North-Central), Senate President Ahmad Lawan (North-East), Mohammed Badaru (North-West) and Ahmed Yerima (North-West).

Asked if the APC has zoned the presidential ticket, APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr, Felix Morka, said: “There is no such decision made by the National Working Committee.”

On the adjusted timetable, Morka said the earlier three-day presidential convention will now hold for two days from Sunday May 29 to Monday, May 30.

The party, however, shifted forward, its governorship and House of Representatives primary elections. The exercise will now hold on Thursday, May 26.

Also, the Senate and House of Assembly primary elections will be held on Friday, May 27.

Morka said: “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress on Wednesday, 18th of May, 2022, approved an adjusted Timetable/Schedule of Activities for the Governorship, State House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and Presidential Primaries and Appeals.

“Governorship and House of Representatives election appeals would hold on Friday, 27th May while those of the Senate and House of Assembly would hold the next day, Saturday, 28th May.

“Special Convention for Presidential Primaries holds from Sunday 29th – Monday, 30th of May, 2022”, he added.

The decision to adjust the timetable was necessitated by the need to ensure swift resolutions of all issues before the June 3 deadline set by INEC for the conduct of all political parties’ primaries.

The APC spoke as the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, criticised President Muhammadu  Buhari and the ruling party over the delay in assenting the latest amendment to the Electoral Act, which could affect the primaries of all political parties.

Unless President Buhari assents to the Electoral Act 2022 Amendment Bill before him, only 2,340 ad hoc delegates instead of 7,800 would be participating at the presidential convention of the APC, to elect the party’s presidential candidate for next year’s election. A similar scenario obtains in all the parties

This is because the current Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) does not provide a role for statutory delegates during the convention.

The ad hoc delegates would be drawn from Nigeria’s 774 local government areas and six Area Councils of the nation’s capital, Abuja.

Statutory or “Super” delegates include elected councillors, elected local government chairmen and their vice, political party chairmen in all the 774 LGAs and the Federal Capital Territory FCT, state and federal lawmakers, governors and their deputies, president and vice president, political parties’ National Working Committee members, state party chairmen and secretaries.

The provision in the Principal Act reads: “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.

Last week, federal lawmakers amended Section 84 of the Principal Act by deleting subsection (8) and inserting a new subsection (8) as follows: “A political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidates shall clearly outline in its constitution and rules the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting, in addition to statutory delegates already prescribed in the Constitution of the party.”

The amendment bill was reportedly transmitted to the president on May 13, and he has a 30-day constitutionally guaranteed window within which to assent to the Act or withhold assent.

As it is, the President has up to June 13 to do so. However, any assent after the primaries of the parties would not be useful for the 2023 polls. Also, any assent a day or two to the primaries will affect logistics and harm the exercises.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said the party is not surprised but disappointed by the reluctance of President Buhari, to sign the amended version of the Electoral Act.

He said the delay was part of the ruling party’s plot to disrupt preparations by opposition political parties in order to  disenfranchise Nigerians.

The PDP spokesman said: “It is not surprising but disappointing and dislocating. As at today, parties do not know for certain who the delegates are and democracy thrives on certainty.

“The APC is not a political party. It was cobbled together as a Special Purpose Vehicle to grab power. Now it is in power look at where it has led us.

“Today, we are being led by a man, who is disconnected from reality. The trust level of Nigerians is at its lowest ebb.

Today, killing is a daily occurrence, we have a Central Bank Governor who is a card carrying member of the APC, the economy is in ruins I hear the Dollar is today N600, yet the CBN Governor who is playing politics in total disregard for the laws guiding the bank’s operations is still in office.

“We call on Nigerians not to despair, this APC government shall soon pass away and we are determined to ensure that a New Nigeria is born.”

Whether Buhari signs or not, APGA ready for  primaries — Oye

However, National chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Oye, said the party is ready to go on with its primaries whether President signed the amended Electoral Act or not.

His words: “Whether the President signs or not, APGA will adopt the indirect primary option. We are not really worried about this as we are prepared to conduct free, fair and credible primaries. We can use statutory delegates or go the three-man delegate model. Whichever way, APGA is ready.”

However, the Presidency said, yesterday that President studying the legality of the amended Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, confirmed last night that the president was weighing the amendments done by the National Assembly with a view to deciding the constitutionality and legality of the amended legislation.

But in examining the legality of the amendment carried out by the lawmakers, the president is mindful of the 30 days deadline available to him and the need to assent to the law or withhold his assent bearing in mind the timeframe put in place by the INEC with regards to the 2023 elections.

Malami said: “Mr. President has 30 days to act on a bill presented to him. He is considering the request by the National Assembly with particular regards to the constitutionality and legality of amendment to Section 84(8).”

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