APC adopting consensus candidates illegal – Ajulo

A former National Secretary of the Labour Party, Kayode Ajulo, has warned the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against adopting the consensus system of electing officers of its National Working Committee (NWC).

The APC is holding its national convention today, where the NWC  members would be elected, and has adopted the consensus option to pick most of the officers, particularly its national chairman.

The party, on the prompting of President Muhammadu Buhari, has agreed by consensus to adopt a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Abdullahi Adamu, as its national chairman.

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But Ajulo, a lawyer, argued that such an adoption would amount to “gross illegality, which any of the aspirants being denied of their rights” could successfully challenge in court.

In a statement issued today and made available to newsmen in Abuja, Ajulo informed that the Electoral Act did not make any provision for a consensus system of electing the NWC members of any political party.

He, therefore, warned the APC against carrying out an exercise that a court could later declare as a nullity.

Part of his statement read, “Several notable Nigerians like a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, Mallam Salihu Mustapha, Muhammed Etsu, Senator Sani Musa, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and others have evinced intentions to vie for the National Chairmanship position of the party.

”In a twist of event, the APC governors and President Muhammadu Buhari, exercising their right of choice, have resolved to pick one of the candidates as the party’s consensus candidate for the position of the National Chairman of the Party at the upcoming National Convention.

“Similarly, they also resolved to pick consensus candidates for other positions in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party.

“The Chairman of the Interim Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Gov. Mala Buni, has also said that the party will bow to the decision of Mr. President and the APC governors with respect to the mode of selection of the members of the NWC of the party.

“As a passionate and interested observer, it is imperative to beam a searchlight on the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 viz-a-viz the consensus option of the All Progressives Congress.

“Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that:

‘The election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position in any of the aforesaid bodies, shall be conducted democratically and allowing for all members of the party or duly elected
delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.’

“A literal interpretation of the above provision, which is devoid of any ambiguity, clearly connotes that the only mode of election of members of the executive committee or governing body of a political party shall either be by direct or indirect election.

“It, therefore, implies that the Electoral Act, 2022 has expressly abrogated the consensus mode of election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party.

“Moreso, the position of the law is clear to the effect that the provisions of the Constitution or a Statute should not be interpreted in isolation, but rather along with other related and relevant provisions thereof which assist in achieving the object intended by the framers.

“For instance, in the case of P.D.P. v. INEC. (1999) 7 SC. (Pt. II) 30, (1999) 11 NWLR (626) 200 at 249, Uwais, CJN, had pointed to what is required to be done in interpreting the provisions of a Statute or Constitution as follows:-

‘It is settled that in interpreting the provisions or Section of a Statute or, indeed, the Constitution, such provisions or Sections should not be read in isolation of the other parts of the Statute or Constitution. In other words, the Statute or Constitution should be read as a whole in order to determine the intendment of the makers of the Statute or Constitution.’

“To drive the point home, it is, therefore, apposite to draw inference from other provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 in order to arrive at a holistic conclusion.

“Section 84(2) of the Act provides that the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions shall be by direct, indirect primaries or consensus.

“Section 84(9) of the Act further provides that a political party that adopts a consensus candidate shall secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate.



    “Hence, it is safe to conclude that the Drafters of the Electoral Act, 2022 never intended that the consensus mode shall be applied in the election of members of executive or other governing body of a political party.”

    Ajulo stated that by his explanation above, it had become important to advise decision-makers of the APC to be “wary” and recognise the harm in choosing its executive members by the consensus mode.

    “Hence, in order to nip another looming inglorious kismet in the bud, it is thereby admonished that the party should immediately resort to the direct or indirect mode of electing members of the Executive or other Governing body of the party at the National Convention.

    “A stitch in time saves nine,” Ajulo further warned.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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