How to become a delegate in Nigeria

Feb 21, 2023|Stears Explains

If you hear the word “delegates”, and the first thing that comes to your mind is money, one can hardly blame you. Delegates, in this part of the world, are infamous for receiving significant amounts of money anytime political party primaries are conducted, making it a highly sought after “job”.

Money reportedly offered to delegates depends on the position candidates are contesting for during the primaries.

However, this explainer is for those who have wondered how to become a party delegate in Nigeria.

But first, who are delegates?

Delegates are members of political parties who elect the candidates that represent the party in the general election.

Now, political parties comprise thousands of individuals. Some occupy positions within the parties, and others are just card carrying party members. When it is time to produce candidates for elective positions in the general elections, political parties conduct primaries, and delegates typically vote for candidates to emerge in these primaries. So how does one become a party delegate?

Becoming a delegate

Let’s start by addressing the types of delegates one can become. 

There are two types of delegates: Ad hoc delegates and Statutory delegates.

Ad-hoc delegates are of two kinds: 

 1. Ward delegates: These are members that elect the party’s choice of candidates for the house of representatives, senate, and gubernatorial elections.

2. National delegates: These delegates vote for the party’s presidential candidates. The national delegates are selected from each local government through a congress. 

Statutory delegates are typically a political party's past and present public office holders. They have the prerogative to be automatic delegates.

Initially, the Electoral Act 2022 was silent on including statutory delegates, but in an accelerated passage, the National Assembly amended the act to enable statutory delegates to participate and vote in party conventions, congresses and meetings.

The issue of statutory delegates has generated controversy as many perceive it as an undue advantage given to public office holders and feel that their participation is unnecessary, especially for the sake of prudence and credibility.

However, Statutory delegates comprise:

  • Former and current presidents and vice presidents

  • Governors and deputy governors

  • Senators, house of representative members, state assembly members

  • Political party chairmen

  • Local government chairs and their deputies

  • Ward councilors

How Ad-hoc party delegates are chosen? 

Remember that the Ad-hoc delegates are of two kinds (ward and national delegates). 

Political parties choose their ward delegates based on the country's number of wards (per local government). Currently, Nigeria has 8,821 wards [district headquarters].

But, each party’s guidelines differ in determining the number of representatives per ward. For example, the All Progressives Congress (APC) agreed on five delegates per ward, while PDP settled for three delegates from each ward. 

Parties select their national delegates through a similar process, but only the local governments produce representatives. Take the APC, for example, which decided on three national delegates per local government in the recently concluded Presidential primary election.

On its own path, the PDP decided for one national delegate per local government [774] and one more from every state and Abuja. Bringing the total number of their delegates to 810. Whether it’s three like the APC, or one like the PDP, one clear thing is a state with more local governments will consequently have more delegates. Another important thing to know is that there’s more than one type of primaries—i.e. the elections where delegates vote. 

There are two types of primary elections in Nigeria;

  • Direct primary election

  • Indirect primary election

Direct primary election

A direct primary election is a party election where all card-carrying members of a political party within a state elect their party’s candidate in a primaries to represent the party at the general elections. A famous example of direct primary election is the controversial election that led to the loss of Former Governor Akinwumi Ambode during his pursuit for a second term. 

Indirect primary election

An indirect primary election is a party election where party members in a ward elect delegates to elect the party’s candidate at the convention.

The major difference is that all card-carrying party members vote in direct primary elections, but only delegates vote in indirect primary elections. Notwithstanding, the indirect primary election is the most common in Nigeria.

How to become a Nigerian political party delegate in 9 steps

The steps below outline how to become a delegate in Nigeria.

  1. Join a political party in Nigeria.

  2. Register with the party by purchasing a registration form.

  3. Submit the required documents.

  4. Pay your registration fee at the party’s ward secretariat.

  5. Collect your party membership card.

  6. Build popularity in your ward.

  7. Cultivate grassroots support from members at your ward.

  8. Indicate interest in being a delegate at the ward congress.

  9. Win the election to be a delegate from your ward.

Delegates in Nigeria - Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a delegate in government?

A delegate is a member of a political party that participates in electing the candidates that represent the party in the general election. Furthermore, delegates  are of two categories; Ad-hoc and Statutory. 

2. How many official delegates are there in the National Assembly?

By virtue of being public office holders belonging to a political party, all members of the national assembly are statutory delegates. Therefore, the number of official delegates in the National Assembly is 469. 360 from the House of Representative and 109 in the senate.

3. What determines the number of delegates a state receives?

The number of delegates a state receives depends on the number of local governments in the state. The more the number of local governments in a state, the more the number of delegates. per state and vice versa.

4. Do delegates get paid?

Political parties pay delegates to take care of their feeding and accommodation logistics. Also, politicians are notorious for inducing delegates with money to emerge victorious from the primary process.

Where else?