By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday said the concept of “placeholder” for vice presidential candidates has no place in the constitution and legal framework.
According to the 2023 election time table released by INEC, the commission had set June 17 as the deadline for the submission of names of presidential and vice presidential candidates.
In order to beat the deadline, some parties submitted names of vice presidential candidates who they described as placeholders.
The APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu named Kabiru Masari as his running mate, but some political analysts said the former APC National Welfare Secretary is a “placeholder” before a final candidate is named.
Similarly, Doyin Okupe announced that he would be “standing in as the vice presidential candidate” Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, pending a final replacement.
Reacting to the trend in an interview with Arise TV, on Monday, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Information and Education, Festus Okoye, said the “placeholder is a unique Nigerian invention” for which the commission’s law has no provision.
He added that the commission can only replace a candidate if the person writes a “sworn affidavit stating that he is withdrawing from the race within the time frame provided by the law.”
“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,” Okoye said.