Posted by News Express | 30 May 2022 | 799 times
The failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the amendment made by the National Assembly to the Electoral Act, 2022, which gives recognition to statutory delegates, may have dealt a big blow to the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and presidential aspirant of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Party sources, who spoke with Daily Independent on Sunday, said Tinubu is one of the politicians greatly affected by the president’s action as here lied greatly on statutory delegates, especially serving and former National Assembly members to vote for him at the convention.
The statutory delegates include: the President, Vice President, members of the National Assembly (past and present), governors and their deputies, members of the state Houses of Assembly, council chairmen, councilors and National Working Committees (NWCs) of political parties.
Daily Independent gathered that with the development, members of the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA’ 23), who are made up of former and serving National Assembly members and have been mobilising support for Tinubu nationwide, will not be able to vote at the convention.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Independent in December 2021, Otunba Bosun Oladele, National Secretary of SWAGA, explained the concept behind the formation of the group.
“SWAGA started as an effort in revamping our consciousness towards the need for a President from South- West region in the coming dispensation.
We looked at how this could be achieved and we decided that a group could be the pivot.
Who are those that are supposed to constitute the group? The only set of people that we felt will have the time and some resources to be able to do that are former members of the National Assembly.
“Not only that, people have been talking about whether direct or indirect primary should be adopted.
The idea is that every former member of the National Assembly, be it senator or rep is automatic statutory delegate.
If they say it is indirect primary tomorrow, even if they have gone to another party, wherever they are, they are among the delegates that will vote by right and by law for all the parties.
“For example, I am from Oyo State. Every four years, Oyo State will turn out 14 House of Reps members and statutorily every state has three senators.
So, if you look at Oyo State, assuming we are able to get 14 reps and three senators, that is 17 votes already in the delegates’ election.
So, we decided to bring former members of the National Assembly together, with the belief that we already have some votes in the kitty in case indirect primary is adopted”.
According to a former NWC member of the APC from the North-West zone, the refusal of President Buhari to sign the amended Electoral Act greatly unsettled Tinubu and members of SWAGA as their permutations on the presidential primary was quashed.
“The refusal of President Buhari in signing the amended Electoral Act greatly affected a lot of politicians, not just in APC alone.
It also affected PDP members too as can be seen in their primaries. Many statutory delegates who have before now enjoyed certain privileges during elections such as patronage and largesse which include foreign currency were shut out. Nobody contacted them because they can’t vote.
“However, I think the major person who is bearing the brunt of the failure of the President to sign the amended Act is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
If you look at SWAGA and other groups canvassing support for him such as Tinubu Support Group, they are majorly current and serving National Assembly members who have already assured him of votes at the convention. However, with the latest developments, they can’t vote again.
So, Tinubu is at the mercy of the APC governors who are now in full control of the delegates”.
When contacted, Oladele said Tinubu’s chance at the primary is not threatened at all given the fact that SWAGA is not only made up of former and current National Assembly members but also grassroots politicians who are ad-hoc delegates that will vote at the convention.
“On the issue of removal of statutory delegates by the provision of the Electoral Act, when we started SWAGA, we brought together former National Assembly members.
The primary aim then was that the members will be statutory delegates and they will be useful for the purpose of ensuring Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s victory at the presidential primary.
“However, immediately we started, we also discovered that one of the raging issue then was whether there will be direct or indirect primaries.
Indirect primaries would have been taken care of via the sensitisation and mobilisation of delegates.
“Direct primary will be taken care of by mobilisation and sensitisation of entire card-carrying membership of the party.
So, thereafter, we brought in notable grassroots politicians just in case it was going to be direct primaries. “I want to tell you categorically that that decision has paid off.
Right now, those people we brought in have been able to sensitise majority of the ad-hoc delegates we have across Nigeria today. In some cases, these our members are themselves delegates one way or the other.
“So, we don’t believe that Asiwaju Tinubu’s chances will be affected because we saw the situation and luckily, we have addressed it from the onset. It was our back-up plan and it has become potent right now.
“Whether wed director indirect, which in this case is now via ad-hoc delegates, we are comfortable. We are confident Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will win the primary convincingly”, he said.
Speaking further, Oladele said the APC will be making a huge mistake if it does not field Tinubu as its presidential candidate to confront former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the 2023 presidential election.
Atiku scored 371 votes at the PDP presidential primary to defeat his closest rival, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, who polled 237 votes and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who came third with 70 votes.
The SWAGA chief, who said no presidential aspirant in APC today has Tinubu’s network, added that the only aspirant Atiku is afraid of facing in the presidential election in the APC today is Tinubu.
He said, “Asiwaju Tinubu is the most potent threat to Atiku Abubakar. In APC today, he is the only presidential aspirant Atiku is afraid of.
“APC will be digging itself into a hole if Asiwaju Tinubu does not emerge. He is the only one that can face Atiku grit for grit.
He is the only one that can defeat Atiku hands down in electoral contest today in the general election.
“Look at other aspirants in APC today, do they have the network Asiwaju has? There is no gainsaying the fact that we have our path cut out for us easily. We have our decision already made for us by reason of circumstances.
“The best that could happen to APC at this moment is for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to emerge as our presidential candidate. Go out and conduct opinion poll on the street.
A layman will tell you that the only person in APC who can defeat Atiku today is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu”. (Daily Independent: Excluding headline)
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