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Controversy rages over non-career ambassadors as statutory delegates

Controversy is raging in the ruling  All Progressives Congress (APC) over the eligibility of serving non-career ambassadors to vote as statutory delegates to the party’s…

Controversy is raging in the ruling  All Progressives Congress (APC) over the eligibility of serving non-career ambassadors to vote as statutory delegates to the party’s convention or presidential primary without resigning their current positions as political appointees.

If the legal quagmire around section 84 of the Electoral Act is resolved and President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the new Electoral Act 2022, political parties would allow statutory delegates to vote at their conventions and primaries, in addition to the ad hoc delegates.

The Senate had carried out an accelerated amendment of section 84(8) of the Electoral Act to include the participation of statutory delegates at the conventions and congresses of political parties.

The APC top echelon has fixed the party’s presidential primary election for May 29 and 30, where its candidate for the 2023 poll would emerge.

While the party is yet to decide on zoning, as well as the mode of nomination of its candidate, preparations are ongoing as aspirants have already purchased and turned in their expression of interest and nomination forms.

However, there is confusing and furor in the party as serving non-career ambassadors are mandated under the party’s new constitution to be part of statutory delegates to the party’s presidential primary without resigning their current positions as political appointees.   

Electoral Act, APC constitution clash  

Article 12.1 (vii) of the APC’s new constitution states, “Serving non-career ambassadors who are members of the party” shall form delegates to the national convention.

But section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 states, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress  of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”  

Section 84 (13)  states, “Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.”

Some critical stakeholders who spoke with our reporter yesterday said if the party had wanted them to participate as statutory delegates, it would have compelled them to vacate their offices like the ministers to seek election as ad hoc delegates before qualifying to vote.

Another issue, according to credible sources who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday, is that the APC Constitution Amendment Committee headed by Professor Mamman Tahir did not include the clause that serving non-career ambassadors would participate as statutory delegates without resigning. 

Our correspondent confirmed that in their proposal for the amendment, which was published in some national dailies on February 11, 2022, there was no such provision.

Multiple sources told Daily Trust on Sunday yesterday that some “unscrupulous APC elements wielding both legal and political power in the Buhari government” included it to serve their own interest.  

Meanwhile, the party is yet to constitute the National Advisory Council, three months after its constitution was adopted by the National Executive Committee (NEC). The new constitution provides that the party shall have a National Advisory Council instead of Board of Trustees (BoT). 

The advisory council, if constituted, would be an advisory body and conscience of the party like the BoT in other political parties.

The national publicity secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, a lawyer, neither answered his calls nor responded to a text message sent to him by our reporter on why the top echelon of the party is yet to form the National Advisory Council.