The All Progressives Congress (APC) has churned out a strange set of criteria for its presidential aspirants ahead of its national convention scheduled for May 31, 2022 at the Eagle Square in Abuja. This is coming when Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the outrageous N100 million fee for the presidential expression of interest and nomination forms.
The party last week released nine key guidelines for the conduct of presidential, governorship and parliamentary primaries. Out of the conditions, the most disturbing is the “voluntary letter of withdrawal”, by all the aspirants which they are expected to sign before a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public. Most of the aspirants have kicked against the obnoxious clause.
In addition to that, the aspirants have been barred from going to court without first exhausting avenues for redress and ventilation of grievances. They are also expected to sign undertakings to accept the outcomes of the shadow polls and support whoever emerges as a candidate for the general election.
To further exacerbate the situation, the APC also asked all presidential aspirants to submit with their forms the signatures of ten statutory delegates from each state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It has insisted that, that is a precondition for submitting the expression of interest and nomination forms.
To justify its decision, the APC leadership claimed that the conditions were in line with Article 21.2 (i — xii) of its constitution. This is debatable when viewed from the fact that the conditions are inconsistent with fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. How can the ruling party box its aspirants with such draconian conditions and still claim to be a democratic party?
There is no doubt that the withdrawal clause may lead to either imposition of a presidential candidate or abuse of the consensus clause in the Electoral Act 2022. This is highly unacceptable and unfair to all those who coughed out the whopping sum of N100 million for the forms if the party had already made up its mind to coronate.
The APC should be ready for series of litigations. The decision no doubt will be challenged by most of the aspirants. Already some have hinted of that possibility as they wait for legal counsel from their lawyers. It is the way to go in order to put in check such rascality by political parties.
As expected the leader of the party has not said anything concerning the issue. In his usual manner, President Muhammadu Buhari has kept mute which of course is glaring to all that he has either by ignorance or sheer mischief endorsed the action of the party. It is one of the sad commentaries of the man.
As at today, no fewer than eight members of his cabinet have signified their intentions to succeed him. The president has not deemed it fit to ask them to resign. He is supervising them using state funds to pursue their personal political interests. Just the same way he refused to fire them even with the level of incompetence and financial profligacy displayed by some of them in the last seven years.
We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use its power of supervision to check some of the excesses of political parties, especially this latest one by the ruling APC. It is not a good thing for the nation’s democracy. If allowed to stand, more parties will tomorrow have the effrontery to do worse things to stifle internal democracy.