No Constitutional Provision For Running Mate ‘Placeholder’  – INEC

<strong>No Constitutional Provision For Running Mate ‘Placeholder’  – INEC</strong>

Caleb Ishaya

Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has noted that the concept of “placeholder” for vice-presidential candidates has no constitutional backing or legal framework.

Recall that INEC had set June 17 as deadline for the nomination of vice presidential candidates, after the completion of presidential primaries of political parties.

In order to beat the deadline, some parties submitted names of temporary vice presidential candidates who they described as “placeholders.”

While the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, nominated and submitted the name of Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate to its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, named Kabiru Masari as the running mate to its flag bearer, Bola Tinubu, a scheme some political analysts had said was mere “placeholding” before a final candidate is named.

Similarly, Doyin Okupe had announced that he would be “standing in as the vice presidential candidate” for Peter Obi of the Labour party candidate pending a final replacement.

Reacting to the trend during a chat with Arise TV yesterday, INEC commissioner for Information And Voter Education, Festus Okoye said the “placeholder is a unique Nigerian invention” for which the commission’s law had no provision.

Okoye added that the commission could only replace a candidate if the person writes a “sworn affidavit stating that he is withdrawing from the race within the timeframe provided by the law.

“The constitution makes it very clear that you cannot run alone as a presidential candidate and must nominate an associate to run with you for that position, and as far as INEC is concerned, the presidential candidates have submitted their associates to run with them in the presidential election.

“As far as we are concerned, there’s no form submitted by the presidential candidate where they said ‘we’re submitting this person’s name as a place or space holder’.

“The issue of space or place holder is a unique Nigerian invention that has no place in our constitutional and legal framework.

“Political parties’ candidates have submitted names of associates to run with them, and that is the position of the law as at today and nothing has changed.

“For there to be a substitution of a candidate, the vice-presidential candidate must write to INEC, with a sworn affidavit stating that he is withdrawing from the race within the time frame provided by the law. That’s the only way there can be a substitution of candidates.”

Meanwhile, APC Abdullahi Adamu noted that choosing a vice presidential candidate for the party was done after “careful” legal consultations.

Adamu spoke yesterday while addressing State House correspondents after accompanying the governor-elect of Ekiti State, Biodun Oyebanji, on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.

On speculations that Masari might not want to step down if he is indeed standing in as Tinubu’s running mate, Adamu said such speculations should be dismissed.

“We are not in the speculative world. We are governed by the laws of the land. There’s nothing our presidential candidate has done with regards to returning his forms that is not within the confines of the law of the land,” the APC chairman said.

“Everything we’ve done so far, we have done very carefully with legal consultation and we are cocksure, we’re not going to have the kind of speculation that you are professing at this point in time.

“We’re very comfortable with what we have done. It is still pessimism. However, not in that school of thought yet. We don’t have to be there.”

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