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Obi, Tinubu under fire over interim running mates, Atiku gets kudos

By Tunde Joshua, Abuja and Suru Charles

P r e s i d e n t i a l candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Mr. Peter Obi, have been lambasted by some Nigerians for naming interim running mates.

The critics said Tinubu’s and Obi’s delays in choosing substantive running mates indicated unpreparedness to govern unlike Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who has named Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, as his substantive vice presidential candidate. But some other political analysts as well as the camps of Obi and Tinubu disagreed.

A political activist and former governorship candidate in Delta State, Comrade Igbini Odafe Emmanuel, said that neither APC nor the LP erred in submitting names of persons as ‘placeholders’ for their vice presidential slots. He also said all names submitted so far to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as candidates for the 2023 elections are ‘placeholders’.

Igbini, an engineer and former oil industry unionist, who was the Governorship Candidate of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Delta State in 2007 and 2011, made this assertion in a statement, in an apparent reaction to a claim by INEC that there is no constitutional provisions for a ‘placeholder.’

In the statement, Igbini said “as a political activist and a former three-time governorship candidate, I am compelled to react to the recent claim by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through its National Commissioner Barr. Festus Okoye, that there exist no place in Nigerian Constitution and Legal Framework for what is now described as ‘placeholders’ in Nigeria 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 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 INEC but which they may change or substitute within the window provided by the sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2021, as amended to do so.

“Contrary to 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 2021, 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 this idea of changing or substituting candidates for general elections have been in our electoral laws of 2006, 2010 and now 2021, as amended.”

He affirmed 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 the 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, I here reproduce verbatim, sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2021 as amended: “Section 29(1) states that: “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 that: “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 withdraw to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.

“Section 33 states that: “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, he said “APC and LP have not acted against the Constitution and Electoral Act of Nigeria.” Atiku, in a statement at the weekend, said he is not contesting by playing to the gallery.

He stated: “Now that the formalities about candidates’ emergence are concluded with the electoral umpire coming up with public presentation of candidates in all federal elections, it is safe to say that from this moment onwards, the warm-up to the race can only get more intense.

“But we must be clear about one thing: this is a race like none before. It will be a marathon and it will require all of the energies that we can muster. “Dear compatriot, my promise to you as we run this race together is that as your candidate, I shall ensure that we remain focused and disciplined.

And I shall expect the same spirit of sportsmanship from you. “The 2023 election is neither about me nor any of the other candidates we are contesting with – or their agents.

It is about the pathway that our dear country, Nigeria, must chart into a brighter and more prosperous future. “Our assets in this campaign are my track records of performance when I served as Vice President between 1999 – 2007.

The second asset is the policy document that details the work plan of what we shall do to rescue Nigeria back to her glorious heights. Above all, my attributes as a Unifier and Bridge-builder bar none will stand us in good stead in this era characterised by disunity and absence of inclusion.

“Our opponents will want to confuse you with alternative facts as we progress and when the campaign starts in full. But I will urge you to always reman focused and remember that that is not why we are in the race.

The urgency of the job to get Nigeria back on her feet as ONE People, with One Future and ONE Country cannot give us the luxury of playing to the gallery. “I thank you most sincerely for your continued support and please have assurances of my best regards. “ I wish you a happy Sunday. “Atiku Abubakar” However, the Obi and Tinubu camps have defended the use of surrogate running mates on the ground that consultations are ongoing on the choice of their parties’ substantive vice presidential candidates, The Trumpet gathered.

T i n u b u ’ s spokesman,Tunde Rahman, however, said whom (Masari) people are regarding ashis principal’s running mate pro tempore could well be or double as the substantive one if INEC does not allow a substitution.

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If electoral umpire toes this line, LP will be stuck with a Christian-Christian ticket of Obi and Dr. Doyin Okupe. Relatedly, Tinubu has been urged to substitute the name of his fellow Muslim temporary running mate Kabir Masari that he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with a Christian from the North. The call was made the leadership of the Christian Reformed Church-Nigeria (CRC-N) at the weekend.

It came via a communique issued in Jalingo shortly after its 154th General Church Council meeting.

It also kicked against any plan by the APC for a Muslim/ Muslim presidential ticket. It was jointly signed by the President of CRC-N, Rev. (Dr.) Isaiah Magaji Jirapye, who also doubles as the state chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the church’s General Secretary, Rev. Sagarga Nuvalga Gargea.

The church believed that “there are thousands of competent and God- fearing Christians in the north who can deliver if trusted with the mandate.” It described Nigeria as a secular state, stressing that a Muslim-Muslim ticket “is a calculated arrangement aimed at pushing Christians out of Political leadership of the country, a move perceived as Islamization agenda.” Consequently, the need for their leaders and believers to formulate a clear-cut vision, template and strategy for Christians to get involved in politics and aspire for national leadership, the church believed, has become necessary.

Failure to adhere to the above suggestion, they said, will amount to “enthroning mediocrity and ungodly policies as well as furthering persecution of the church.” It wondered why Christians have continued to shy away from participating actively in politics which “is instituted by God and is never a dirty game as perceived by many, but a clean one played by wrong people.”

The church also expressed sadness at the growing security situation in the country, urging the federal government to rise up to its responsibility by frustrating the activities of terrorists.

The communique said “there must be convincing commitment on the side of government to address the challenges of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping ravaging the country.”

The church also condemned the “unfortunate killings of innocent Nigerians in Churches in Owo, Ondo and Kaduna States respectively.” It observed that churches “are now soft targets of the terrorists” and underlined the need for Christians “not only to be security-conscious but be prepared to defend themselves in the midst of the deteriorating security situatio.”

It stated that “most of the ethno-communal crises in the State are cases of brothers against each other in the name of tribe and sections.” To curb this, they charged believers in Ussa, Takum, Wukari, Donga, Yangtu and Bissaula communities to strive to promote true sense of brotherhood as taught in the Holy Scriptures and downplay tribalism, sectionalism and other factors that cause disharmony and unwarranted disputes leading to bloodshed and destruction of properties.

It called on the organ responsible for conducting the forthcoming general elections to ensure a hitchfree exercise. The church re-emphasized the need for Christians of voting age without Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to take advantage of the ongoing voters registration to obtain it. It also enjoined churches to commence operation show your PVCs and members without it to obtain it to enable them play effective role in determining the leadership of the country in 2023.

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