The power possessed by delegates in determining the fate of millions of Nigerians ahead of the 2023 general elections has been a major concern.
Nigerians have raised questions on how few members of a political party would determine the candidate to be presented to Nigerians to choose as their leader for the next four years.
In the just-concluded presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party and other political parties, it was observed how delegates were pampered with all sorts (money, cars, etc) by politicians and aspirants seeking their vote.
This has made Naija News dig into who a delegate is, how they emerge, why politicians induce them with money to seek their vote and the power a delegate has to determine who emerges as a party candidate.
Who Is A Party Delegate?
Party Delegates are registered members of a political party, who are elected by the party members to vote for aspirants during primary elections.
Note, that a person can not be delegated twice except if he or she is elected again ahead of another elective election.
To be a delegate, one must ensure they are a registered member of the party, who has submitted their required documents by paying the registration fee at the party’s ward secretariat to enable them to get the membership card.
Then they grow their popularity amongst the members of the party which would enable them to get selected to elect candidates who will represent the party in elective positions.
How Delegates Emerge
There are two major types of delegates; ad-hoc and statutory delegates.
Ad-hoc delegates are selected after congresses in different wards across the country are held.
This involves party members choosing people who will represent the party at various elective positions.
The highest organ of political parties, the National Executive Committees determine the mode of these congresses. After the delegates, are selected.
Meanwhile, there are statutory delegates who some people call automatic delegates. They are party members who are currently serving public office holders, ward councillors, local government chairmen and their vices and political party chairmen in all the 774 LGAs.
Others are; current and former presidents, governors, deputy governors, as well as members of the National and state House of Assembly.
Under the All Progressives Congress, five delegates are elected from each ward from the state congresses to elect governors, senators, House of Representatives and states’ House of Assembly candidates, while in the Peoples Democratic Party, three delegates are elected from each ward.
The Power Each Delegate Has To Decide The Fate Of An Aspirant
The decision of who would be the next president begins with what the delegates do with their votes in determining the candidates during the primary election.
The delegates initiate the process of victory for their party in the general election by choosing the best aspirant with a deep sense of responsibility.
Nigeria is currently faced with many challenges including unemployment, economic crisis, insecurity, hunger, bandits, and kidnappings.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of delegates during the party election to choose an aspirant that they feel can salvage the situation.
Delegates Can Be Lured With Money To Control Their Conscience
Ahead of the party primaries, aspirants meet the delegates and some solicit their votes with monetary tokens and gifts to convince them.
Some aspirants however stick strictly to their manifesto without monetary inducement.
It is an open secret that the struggle for who will clinch the ticket in the just concluded primaries of various political parties ahead of the 2023 elections witnessed the splashing of dollars and Naira notes to the delegates.
For instance in some cases that blew open after things didn’t go the way of some aspirants, Adam Namadi, son of former Vice-President Namadi Sambo, reportedly asked delegates to refund the N2 million each he doled out after scoring two votes at the PDP primaries in Kaduna State.
Similarly, the senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District, Ayo Akinyelure, allegedly collected back the vehicles he gifted the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party after he lost the senatorial primary of the party.
On the flip side, the aspiration of General Overseer of Citadel Global Church Tunde Bakare and former Senator Shehu Sani, to get their party’s ticket was dashed, while the latter could only muster two delegates at the end of the primaries the clergyman secured zero votes.
For someone to win an election in Nigeria, he/she needs to have the financial capability to purchase the exorbitant nomination form and have leftovers to run logistics for the various stages of the electioneering.
How Delegates Decision Affects Nigerians As A Whole For The Next Four Years
No matter the number of politicians/aspirants interested in any position, the party can only give its ticket to a single person who thereafter becomes the candidate.
Hence, no matter the number of aspirants, delegates have a huge role and task in narrowing them down until a candidate emerges and it is then and only then that other Nigerians can choose who to vote for during elections.
This leaves a heavy burden on the shoulders of the delegates to choose the right persons and not just follow monetary or other forms of inducements.
The task of choosing the right candidate from the pool of aspirants rests squarely on the shoulders of the delegates and it is expected that they follow their conscience in choosing the right person for Nigerians.
If over 200 million Nigerians can trust just a few thousand delegates to choose who should emerge as party candidates, then the delegates should also see it as a privilege and responsibility which they must respond to by choosing the right persons to the best of their abilities, not just someone with the largest ‘war chest’ of money.
The decision is beyond the party primaries as the delegates can through their decisions cause pain, restore hope or bring happiness.