Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu; and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, have been cautioned over their choices of interim running mates ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Tinubu picked Kabiru Masari, as his ad hoc running mate while Labour Party submitted the name of the Director-General of Peter Obi Campaign Organisation, Dr Doyin Okupe, as the interim vice-presidential candidate of the party to beat the deadline by the Independent National Electoral Commission last week.
But in separate interviews, former INEC officials and directors as well as Senior Advocates of Nigeria cautioned both Obi and Tinubu over their decision to field a substantive running mate for their presidential candidates should the placeholder refuse to withdraw for the substantive vice-presidential candidates
All political parties have 30 days to withdraw the names of such running mates and substitute them with substantives ones
A former Director of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Nick Dazang, noted that the candidates were only trying to take advantage of the window provided by the Electoral Act within which substitutions could be made.
According to him, the presidential candidates are considering running mates that will give ethnoreligious balance to their ticket, have electoral value and whose nomination would attract voters.
Also a former Director of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Oluwole Osaze-Uzi, stated that the law does not recognise a surrogate or placeholder, adding that “the law only recognises candidates” who must be qualified for the respective positions.
He also stated that “if a candidate – the one you call surrogate – refuses to withdraw, nothing can be done.”
According to Osaze-Uzi, a vice-presidential candidate can only be replaced when he withdraws and a party notifies INEC within the time stipulated by the Act and the commission.
He added, “If the candidate who is called a surrogate or placeholder is not qualified in the first place, then the party has not submitted the name of a candidate. If the person was not qualified, so he or she cannot be substituted. You cannot build something on anything.
“The foundation is that if a qualified candidate was first submitted and the candidate has now withdrawn from the race within the time stipulated, the party now nominates somebody else to take the place.”
When asked if a candidate could continue with the race where the running mate had been disqualified, Osaze-Uzi stated, “No, it is a joint ticket.”