2023 Election Law Bulletin: Tinubu and Obi may sail or sink with Masari and Okupe as there is no room for running mate withdrawal- P. D. Pius, Esq.


    Tinubu is reported to have nominated one Masari as his running mate while Obi picked Okupe. These nominations are required by the Constitution for both Tinubu and Obi to be qualified for the election. Here is the gist.

    A running mate is not a candidate. He is a spare tyre. He does not enjoy independent rights. He is tied to the Presidential candidate. He wins if his presidential candidate wins. He loose if his presidential candidate loose. He withdraws if his presidential candidate withdraws. He cannot stand alone. In like sum, he cannot withdraw alone.

    The provision of section 31 and 33 of Electoral Act 2022 only permit withdrawal by candidate. It doesn’t provide for withdrawal for running mate. Thus, Masari and Okupe do not have right to withdraw so that their political parties can nominate other suitable running mates. They have no such rights. Only presidential candidate has right to withdraw.

    The quagmire facing Tinubu and Obi is that running mate are not even nominated by political party. They are nominated by the presidential candidate. Such nomination of running mate by presidential candidate must be done at time he is submitting his details to INEC. INEC Form EC13A paragraph 5 provides that “I hereby nominate … as my Associate for the Office of Vice President.” This must be done at the time the Presidential candidate is submitting his own forms. There is no law that gives the Presidential candidate right to choose someone else later. He also has no right to replace someone he has already nominated when the time for nomination has passed.

    What then could be the implication where a running mate withdraws regardless of the law? Two things may happen:

    1. The withdrawal of a running mate will mean that the Presidential candidate has no VP and thus disqualified from standing election in line with section 142(1) of the Constitution. If this happens they both will not be candidates at 2023 elections. This is most probable.
    2. The running mate may withdraw and INEC will insist he remains running mate just like Obi Ezekwesili withdraw from 2019 Presidential Election after close of withdrawal timeline but INEC insisted she remains a candidate. In this case, Masari and Okupe will remain irrespective of their subsequent withdrawal and INEC will not accept any new running mate to replace them.

    Now, whatever happens, the fate of Tinubu and Obi is tied to their current choice of running mates. They will sail or sink together as there is no legal provision for withdrawal of running mate.

    P. D. Pius, Esq.
    Abuja, Nigeria


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