According to the Collins English Dictionary, a delegate is a person who is chosen to vote or make decisions on behalf of a group of other people, especially at a conference or a meeting.
In Nigeria’s political system, political delegates can be somewhat synonymous with Party delegates, they are the members of a particular party who elects the next presidential candidate or aspirant for any elective political positions in an upcoming election as the party flag bearer or candidate.
Types of Delegate.
There are two types of delegates in Nigeria these are, the ad-hoc and the statutory delegates. These two form the basis that determines how you can become a delegate.
How Delegates Are Chosen
The adhoc delegates are those who are picked or elected during meetings in the various wards in the country by the party members to vote on their behalf in the political party’s presidential or gubernatorial elections.
There are 774 Local Government Areas and each is subdivided into 10 and 12 wards. each local government can have a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 12. Presently, there are about 8810 wards. They are under the leadership of councillors.
Thus, there could be as many as over 8800 delegates per political party in Nigeria. The depends on the size of the party and areas where they have a presence.
Statutory delegates are sometimes referred to as automatic delegates. They are formed by members of political parties that are currently serving as public office holders such as local government chairmen and vices, ward councillors, party chairpersons, current and former presidents and governors/deputy governors of the party, members of National and state house of assembly.
The political party can however decide on who is legible to vote in certain elections. In the last APC primaries, the federal high court in Kano gave the go-ahead for statutory delegates to vote during the party primaries.
How To Become A Party Delegate
These are the steps you can follow to become a party delegate:
- Locate any party of your choice
- Find the website address through search engine
- Find the addresses of the political party’ ward meeting venues to find the one closest to you
- Apply for membership with the party secretary through the party ward office.
- You will be given a form to fill out.
- Complete the form and return it to the secretary.
- The party will hold a meeting and approve your membership.
- You will be given a membership card as a party member.
- Regularly attends the party meetings and contributes to the party activities
- After being a member for a while, indicate your interest to be a party delegate. You will either be chosen or voted into the position of a delegate. These depend on how active or important you are to your ward.
The Role of Party Delegates
These delegates are chosen from the 36 States of the federations and are allowed to decide who becomes the flag bearer of the political party at the presidential and gubernatorial primaries.
Party delegates have always been a part of Nigeria’s Primary elections and they are chosen from the various Ward congresses elections of different political parties.
Individuals participate in primaries or caucuses in 36 states today to elect delegates who support their preferred presidential candidate. The presidential candidate with the most state delegate votes wins the party nomination at national party conventions.
For the APC, only the five delegates elected from each ward for state congresses will vote to elect governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives, and members of the states’ House of Assembly. The three delegates elected from each ward will represent the PDP.
How The Number of Delegates Per State ARe Determined
According to the modified Electoral Act of 2022, these delegates are elected by the members of the party in internal party elections held in each of the local governments.
The electoral college (delegates list) for presidential primaries is made up of ad-hoc delegates elected by local governments across the country.
The electoral college (delegates list) for the governorship primaries is made up of ad-hoc delegates elected from across the state’s wards. This is calculated by multiplying the specified number in the party’s constitution or guidelines by the number of local administrations in each state.
Because the super or statutory delegates’ would not be permitted to vote, the delegates’ list would not be overburdened. For example, in Lagos State, only one delegate from each of the twenty local government areas is authorized, plus one physically challenged citizen, resulting in a total of 21 elected delegates for the primary.
In Lagos State, the APC norms allow three ad-hoc national delegates from each local government to participate in the presidential primary; Lagos has 20 local governments. This means that the total number of delegates from Lagos who will vote in the presidential primary will be 60. Kano, for example, would have more delegates because it has more local governments.
This also means that the delegates’ list will not be overburdened, as super or statutory delegates will be unable to vote.
Why Party Delegates Are So Important And Powerful
In a democratic system, the fate of a people in an election choosing who will lead them in an election is determined majorly by delegates of less than 3000.
In a political system with only two major parties, the people are not enlightened enough to vote for a third option nor is there a stronger third force. The winner of either of the primaries decided by the delegate has a very strong chance of emerging as the winner of an election.
Thus, the influence of delegates can not be overemphasized or downplayed. They practically are the soul of the electorates in deciding who governs a country a state.
Why Voting As A Delegate Has Been Controversial
The 2022 revised Electoral Act, which President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed into law, prohibits statutory delegates from participating in party primaries until recently when it was okay by the high court in Kano.
A political party that uses indirect primaries to pick its candidates must clearly define the mechanism for democratically electing delegates in its constitution and bylaws, according to Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Amendment Act.
The delegates, in addition to the statutory delegates previously specified in the party’s constitution, are entitled to vote at the convention, congress, or meeting, according to the Act.
As a result, the National Assembly, Senate, and House of Representatives agreed to alter 84(8) of the 2022 Electoral Act to change the situation ahead of the primaries in 2022.
The Parliamentarians claimed that the original clause allowing only elected representatives of a party to attend conventions and congresses was incorrect.
However, President Buhari’s refusal to sign the modified Electoral Act has caused turbulence in the polity in the days leading up to the party primaries. The MPs claimed that the original clause allowing only elected representatives of a party to attend conventions and congresses was incorrect.
However, President Buhari’s refusal to sign the modified Electoral Act has caused turbulence in the polity in the days leading up to the party primaries.