Consensus Candidates for APC National Executives: A Looming Inglorious Quietus for the All Progressives Congress -By Kayode Ajulo

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Dr. Kayode Ajulo

It is no more news that the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress has been slated for the 26th of March, 2022. Several notable Nigerians like the former Governor of Zamfara State, Gov. 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 the candidate 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.

While the Chairman of the Interim Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Gov. Mala Buni has been said to have noted 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 National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party, as a passionate and interested observer, it is therefore 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 void of any ambiguity clearly denotes 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 “consensus” mode of election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party.

Moreso, the position of 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 provision 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.”

It suffices to note that even though the provisions of Section 84(2) and 84(9) of the Electoral Act specifically deal with conduct of party primaries, however one point that is very clear is that if the Drafters of the Act would have permitted consensus mode of election of members of the executive or other governing bodies of a political party, they would have expressly stated so.

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

With the above revelation in mind and considering the status of the All Progressives Congress as the ruling party in Africa’s largest population and economy, it is therefore important to advise decision-makers of the party to be wary and must recognize the harms that would be occasioned if the members of the Executive of the party are elected by consensus mode.

To the foregoing point, this reality, thus throws up the likelihood that the very foundation of the leadership structure of the party, if the consensus mode of election is used at the National Convention of the APC on 26th March, 2022, can be challenged by appropriate party members, with potential disastrous consequences for the party at the general election.

One can readily recall the hint of the Supreme Court in Jegede v. Akeredolu & Ors( SC/CV/448/2021) on the shaky leadership structure of the All Progressives Congress led by Gov. Mala Buni.

Hence, in order to nip another looming inglorious kismet in the bud, it is thereby admonished that the party should immediately resort to 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* !

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