Nigerians woke up recently to hear a new lexicon, ‘place or space holding’ in the ever confusing political dictionary of our politicians and political elite.
If there’s anything that they are good at since ages, even right from the time of late Mbadiwe and Okadigbo, were the coinage of some terminologies to suite particular ocaddions or demands.
Nigerians are not new to the antics of these politicians, but the concern now is that the introduction of placeholders or spaceholders, a process whereby some Political parties submitted dummy names as running mates to their presidential candidates to beat the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline, is seen by some political pundits as taking the electorate for a ride.
Metrobusinessnews.com learnt that as at today, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party may have submitted ‘placeholders’ as their vice presidential candidates.
This is despite denial and conflicting signals from APC, which in one breadth said it was a well thought out plan and another breadth gave an indication that if the placeholder decides to withdraw anytime, it has not breached the law.
But most Nigerians say, coming out with placeholders by some political parties, after seeking and obtaining extention for the special conventions, leaves much to be desired.
Also and more importantly, for some candidates who have confessed that occupying the highest position in the land as their ‘life ambition’ beat their imagination for not being ready with his vice presidential candidate, not to talk of the ‘team’ Nigerians him to hit the ground running, if e entuslly, his life ambition is realised.
Clement Nwankwo, executive director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, said it is a “sign of weakness of the system.”
Nwankwo, who appeared on the Arise Television morning program, ‘The Morning Show’ on Tuesday added that the politicians are not ready, adding that this had manifested in late assemblage of team of ministers and aides by some leaders long after winning the elections.
Inibele Effiong, Lawyer and public affairs commentator sees the concept as posing a serious risk to the polity.
Effiong who also appeared on the same station Tuesday posited that the concept is alien to both the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Electoral Act, adding that the law recognizes substitution by either death or withdrawal.
He asks rhetorically, ‘what happens if the placeholder reneges on the so called agreement as we are hearing in some states,?.
“If a candidate says its his life ambition to become the president of Nigeria, one expects that the team should be ready by now and he should have known who he can work with as his vice,”.
He sees it as a threat but also vote buying as a serious threat to the electoral process.
Calling for unbunfling of INEC, which he says it’s overwhelmed and overburdened, he added that the immediate antidote to these challenges, majorly, vote buying, is the establishment of an electoral offences commission, adding, “until that is done, there can never be credibility in our electoral system.”
Friday Ameh says the adoption of the concept poses a great risk to the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians.
According to Ameh, both the LP and APC have same faith as in moslem/moslem and christian/Christian tickets, asking, ‘are these developments peace engendering in a multireligious and ethnic society. What messages are the parties sending and will this foster peace?.
We need to be serious with each other in this country,.“
Another analyst who pleaded for anonymity said the problem in Nigeria is that some individuals are stronger than the institutions and as such they manipulate the institutions to suit their needs.
He also added that poor leadership is the bane of the country, adding that some Nigerians love power and when they get it, they wouldn’t know what to do with such powers.
However, INEC has insisted that the affected parties must obtain letters of withdrawal from such individuals before then can be replaced with substantive candidates.
The Commission said the practice of nominating “placeholders” is alien to the electoral process and unconstitutional.
According to INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voters Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the concept of “placeholder” for vice-presidential candidates has no place in the Electoral Act
Okoye while appearing on a Television programme, Monday, said the “placeholder is a unique Nigerian invention” for which the Commission’s law has no provision.
He said: “The Constitution makes it very clear that you cannot run alone as a presidential candidate and must nominate an associate to run with you for that position, and as far as INEC is concerned, the presidential candidates have submitted their associates to run with them in the presidential election.
“As far as we are concerned, there’s no form submitted by the presidential candidate where they said ‘we’re submitting this person’s name as a place or space holder.
“The issue of space or place holder is a unique Nigerian invention that has no place in our constitutional and legal framework.
“Political parties’ candidates have submitted names of associates to run with them, and that is the position of the law as at today and nothing has changed. For there to be a substitution of a candidate, the vice-presidential candidate must write to INEC, with a sworn affidavit stating that he is withdrawing from the race within the time frame provided by the law. That’s the only way there can be a substitution of candidates.”
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The Commission said it will obey the Order of the Abuja Federal High Court stopping it from ending the Continuous Voter Registration exercise on June 30.
“The commission is a constitutional body and we are under a constitutional obligation to give effect to judgements and orders of properly constituted courts of law, and we are going to give effect to the order made by the Federal High Court”, Okoye said