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What Does It Mean To Be A Nigerian Political Delegate?

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What Does It Mean To Be A Nigerian Political Delegate? by : 2:14 pm On March 22, 2022

The year 2023 is poised to be a critical year for all Nigerians. As with every election period, Nigerians — young and old, are expected to head to the polls in a bid to decide the people qualified to hold various elective positions in the country. But before the masses vote, parties have to choose their flag bearers.

According to Nigeria’s 2010 Electoral Act, all parties are mandated to hold what it refers to as “Primary Elections”. Similar to the general elections, party primaries feature an array of candidates with only one winner in the end. The difference is, this time, rather than going with a decision compiled from the general public, parties decide on representatives known as delegates, who then go ahead to vote for a party flag bearer from the myriad of candidates who indicate interest.

It goes without saying that the fate of our nation rests on the shoulders of the decision they make. But what exactly do they do, what is the reach of their influence and how are they selected? We answer all these questions and more.

Who is a Delegate?
Delegates are a democratically elected group of voters elected at a party congress. Meanwhile, a congress is a formal meeting or convention between members of a political party. At these congresses, party members elect delegates who in turn elect the party’s candidates for different political positions ranging from the governorship to presidential positions. It’s important to note that this only works in indirect primary elections. Direct primaries, on the other hand, work with all registered party members voting for their preferred candidate.

Types of Delegates
There are mainly two categories of party delegates namely;

Statutory Delegate
This category includes those party members that occupy one position in whatever capacity. They’re made up of elected officials. Delegates in this category include; the President, Vice-President, Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, State House of Assembly members, Local Government Chairmen, Councillors, etc. It’s also important to note that, by virtue of being an elected individual, the aforementioned persons are automatically confirmed as delegates even before the party’s congresses.

Non-Statutory Delegate
This category has to do with party members who were mostly unelected officials before the party’s congresses. Therefore, they are elected as delegates to help in the process of electing candidates (formerly aspirants) at the various levels (Ward Congress, Local Government Congress, State Congress, and National Convention).

How Are Delegates Selected?
The types of delegates decide the process of selecting a delegate. As previously stated, statutory delegates by virtue of their elections automatically become party delegates. On the other hand, the non-statutory delegates only become elected delegates at the party’s congresses/convention.

However, it is noteworthy to mention that these delegates do not have a say in all party’s congresses.

For instance, the twenty-seven (27) elected officials in each state are delegates to the state primaries and as it concerns the State House of Assemblies primaries but are not delegates to the National Convention, except for key officials like the State Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Secretary, Women Leader who are delegates to the National Convention.

What Are The Roles of A Delegate?

Delegates through inter-party elections better known as primaries decide who represents the party in whatever capacity, be it at the local, state and at the national level.

Delegates decide who emerges as the flagbearer of a party. This includes both the statutory and non-statutory delegates.

Delegates are stakeholders of a party.

Do Delegates Get Paid?
Delegates do not get paid. However, the political field involves scheming and lobbying and as a result, some selfish delegates side with candidates and groups promising political access or money. All of which falls under politicking.

These unpatriotic delegates and their needs vary. For instance, why some statutory delegates might be concerned with aspirants who will help them secure contracts, political appointments, and favours, some of the non-statutory delegates, who are mostly middle-class, are more interested in immediate financial gains from these aspirants.

Why Are Delegates Important?
Delegates are important because they are the key officials who help in electing aspirants to candidacy when a party adopts Indirect Primaries — which happens to be the most common primary election method —in deciding who becomes the party’s flagbearer.

What Is The Difference Between A Delegate and A Representative?
There is no difference between a delegate and a representative because at the end of the day, they are all ambassadors of the party.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, it has become increasingly important to understand the political process and how it affects us as Nigerians. Knowing what a delegate does provides much-needed context needed in supporting and encouraging our delegates to do the right thing.

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