There have been arguments and counter arguments by the public, especially legal experts about Section 134 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) which stipulates that a presidential candidate must attain or score a majority of votes cast in a presidential election, where two or more candidates are involved, and at least 25% in two-third of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria to meet the constitutional requirement to be declared as duly elected as President of Nigeria.
This writer is not a legal practitioner and as such has no intention of joining in the argument with lawyers about the contentious Section 134 (1) & (2) of the constitution.
However, as a public affairs analyst, I have deemed it fit to make my prognosis or hypothesis which appears logical to my perspective. Since Nigeria has 36 states and the FCT, Abuja, a presidential candidate is required to score a simple majority of votes and at least 25 per cent votes in 24 States plus the FCT.
The framers of the constitution had it in mind that the FCT is not a state, and that’s why the section was written as two-thirds of the 36 states and the FCT. It’s mandatory that a presidential candidate must score 25 per cent votes in 24 states and the FCT.
Those who postulate that it’s not compulsory that a presidential candidate must score a minimum of 25 perc ent votes in the FCT are utterly wrong. As earlier stated, Nigeria has 36 states and the FCT. The FCT is not a state, the FCT has its own peculiarities clearly distinct from those of the states.
The FCT is under the administration of the Nigerian president who appoints a minister or at times two ministers to oversee the affairs of the FCT. The FCT could be regarded as a ministry because it has a federal permanent secretary as its head of administration. The FCT has no governor, state assembly members, unlike the states. The FCT has just one senatorial district unlike the states. Since the president is deemed as the head of the FCT who administers its affairs through his ministers, shouldn’t the president be required to score at least 25 per cent of the votes in the FCT which he oversees?
The recent general election had the ignoble record of the first time that a presidential winner did not attain or score 25% votes in the FCT since the Second Republic or even independence. For instance, MKO Abiola, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari all scored at least 25 per cent votes in the FCT.
The FCT does not attend Federal Allocation Account Committee (FAAC) meetings unlike states. The fiscal budget of the FCT is usually prepared by the president through his ministers and passed by the National Assembly unlike states where such budgets are passed by the State Houses of Assembly.
In conclusion, a presidential candidate must score at least 25% votes in the FCT to be eligible to be declared as duly elected because the same FCT is literally one of his ministries which he oversees as president. Anything short of that is an aberration, a nullity, illegitimate and illegal.
Ifeanyi Maduako, wrote from Owerri, Imo State