Ahead of the primaries, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has issued nine guidelines for the presidential, governorship and parliamentary aspirants.
The aspirants who are expected to sign undertaking to acknowledge the results of the primaries and give total support to whoever emerge as the flag bearers of the party, have been prohibited from seeking any legal redress without first resolving grievances amicably
The ruling party also compels them to make vows not to participate in thuggery, anti -party exercises, breaking into factions or the formation of parallel congresses by party organs at any level. These conditions are contained on page 17 of the nomination form issued to applicants.
Out of the nine conditions, majority of the aspirants, particularly presidential hopefuls frowned at the ” Voluntary letter of withdrawal”, which they are expected to sign before a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public. They alleged that the withdrawal clause might lead to the imposition of a presidential candidate or misuse of the consensus clause in the Electoral Act 2022.
Already, many presidential hopefuls are seeking legal counsel on Page 18 of the nomination form, which they are not pleased with. A duplicate of the nomination form uncovered the tough terms for aspirants who have paid exorbitant fees to participate in the primaries.
Despite the fact that APC leadership asserted that the conditions were in accordance with Article 21. 2 (I — xii) of the APC Constitution, many aspirants see the conditions as conflicting with their fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
The contentious conditions are- “Abide to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the APC and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “Abide by the Primary election guidelines of APC and Nigerian Electoral Act. “Abide to place APC above selfish interests, “I, my primary campaign organisation and my supporters undertake to accept the outcome of the primary and support whoever emerges as APC candidate for the general election. “Abide not to engage in dishonest practices, thuggery, being absent from meetings to which he/she is invited without reasonable cause; carrying out anti-party activities which tend to disrupt the peaceful, lawful and efficient organisation of the party or which are inconsistent with the aims and objectives of the party. “Abide not to give wrong information to any organ of the party or unauthorised publicity of a party dispute without exhausting all avenues or settlement or redress within the party.”
The conditions include “Abide not to file any action in a court of law against the party or any of its officers on any matters relating to the discharge of the duties of the party without first exhausting all avenues for redress provided. “Abide to always follow the path of justice, honesty and unity amongst fellow contestants and party members. So help me God. “Abide not to factionalise or create a parallel congress, election, or party organ at any level”
The aspirants, especially the presidential hopefuls, have picked holes in Page 18 of the nomination form bordering on signing a voluntary letter of withdrawal before participating in the forthcoming exercise. The letter, titled: Letter of Voluntary Withdrawal, says: “I…of the above address…vying for…hereby voluntarily withdraw my candidacy from the contest…scheduled to hold on…2023. My withdrawal is in the best interest of our great party, the APC.”
All aspirants are expected to endorse the letter before a Commissioner for Oaths or Notary Public, apart from addressing the letter to the national chairman of APC, Senator Adamu Abdullahi.
Reliable source disclosed that most of the aspirants see it as a death warrant, as the party could invoke the letter to disengage an aspirant from participating in any strand of the primaries.
The source also explained that It gives the party the liberty to impose a candidate at any level under the guise of abiding by the consensus clause in the Electoral Act 2022. With the letter, the conditions for consensus will easily be met, stressing that technically, many aspirants see the letter as leaving their fate to the party.
With other conditions restricting them to tight corner, some aspirants have opted for legal advice on whether or not to sign the letter of withdrawal.
An aide to a presidential aspirant said their legal team, like those of others, is studying the implications of the letter.
“Although the party said the signing of the letter is optional, an aspirant will be submitting an incomplete nomination form without signing the letter. Such an aspirant may be disqualified.
The various conflicting clauses in the guidelines have restraint the presidential aspirants from submitting their nomination form. Though they have up till May 11th, the aspirants are making representation to the party leadership to have a rethink ” another source explained.