NOT YET UHURU FOR PDP OR OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES IN ZAMFARA STATE... Barr James Kanyip


Yesterday, 24/05/2019, the Supreme Court gave the final judgment in the Zamfara 2019 election saga wherein it held that all the votes scored by the APC in all the elections, except the Presidential election, were wasted votes because APC did not hold any primary elections in that State prior to the general elections as required by law.

Consequently, the Court further held and declared that the candidates of the other political parties that contested in the elections with the second highest valid votes and with the requisite spread as required by the Constitution should be declared as having been elected.

This judgment was interpreted by many as an outright victory for the PDP as if the elections were contested between APC and PDP only to the exclusion of other political parties. This is a misconception. APC and PDP were not the only parties that contested in the elections. Even if they were, it is not an outright victory for PDP.

Agreed that the Supreme Court had, in its judgment, totally excised APC from the Zamfara elections, it did not directly and specifically declare PDP or any other party as the winner of the Zamfara election. Instead, it held that the candidates of the "other political parties" that contested in the election and scored the second highest valid votes and met the required constitutional spread should be declared as the winners of the elections.

Based on the above, INEC now has the responsibility, as the electoral umpire, to first determine the candidates of the party or parties that have met the constitutional requirements before it can declare them as the winners of the elections.

For instance, in the Governorship election, INEC will have to first determine which party and its candidate met the constitutional requirements stipulated in section 179 (2) (a) & b) of the Constitution which provides as follows:

"(2) A candidate for an election to the office of Governor of a State shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates -

"(a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and

"(b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State."

Now, since all the votes of the APC have been declared as "wasted" by the Supreme Court, the implication is that they are void. And, if all these wasted and void votes are expunged from the total votes cast in the elections, it will be practically difficult for the next party with the highest votes to meet the required constitutional spread of "one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State" as stipulated under section 179 (2) (a) & (b) of the Constitution.

To buttress our point, the results of the Governorship election in Zamfara State as declared by the Returning Officer, Prof. Kabiru Bala, are as follows: Mukhtar Idris (APC) got 534,541; Dr. Mutawalle (PDP), polled 189,452; Senator Saidu Dansadau (NRM) scored 15,177; and Dr. Abdullahi Shinkafi (APGA) scored 3,865.

Therefore, if the 534,541 votes scored by the APC and its candidate are expunged from the election, the remaining 189,452 votes scored by the PDP candidate who came second may not meet the constitutional requirements stipulated under section 179 (2) (a) & (b) of the Constitution.

This is the task ahead for INEC to tackle. If it finds out that the candidate for PDP met the constitutional requirements, he will be declared as the winner. On the other hand, if it finds out that no such party met the required constitutional spread, then it must invoke the provisions of section 179 (3), (4) & (5)of the Constitution which state that:

"(3) In default of a candidate duly elected in accordance with subsection (2) of this section there shall be a second election in accordance with subsection (4) of this section at which the only candidates shall be-

"(a) the candidate who secured the highest number of votes cast at the election; and

"(b) one among the remaining candidates who secured a majority of votes in the highest number of local government areas in the State, so however that where there are more than one candidate with a majority of votes in the highest number of local government areas, the candidate among them with the next highest total of votes cast at the election shall be the second candidate.

"(4) In default of a candidate duly elected under subsection (2) of this section, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall within seven days of the result of the election held under that subsection, arrange for an election between the two candidates and a candidate at such election shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Governor of a State if -

"(a) he has a majority of the votes cast at the election; and

"(b) he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the State.

"(5) In default of a candidate duly elected under subsection (4) of this section, the Independent National Electoral Commission shall within seven days of the result of the election held under that subsection, arrange for another election between the two candidates to which that sub-paragraph relates and a candidate at such election shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of governor of a State if he has a majority of the votes cast at the election".

It must be noted that for the other elections (Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly), INEC will also have to determine the winners in accordance with the extant provisions as stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

So, as we await the outcome of these tasks that INEC has to discharge in the coming days pursuant to the judgment of the Supreme Court, it may not yet be uhuru for PDP or the other parties in Zamfara State.

JKanyip
25/05/2019.

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