What happens if a presidential candidate dies before the election in Nigeria?

Dec 13, 2022|Stears Explains

Nigerian presidential candidates have had a history of well-documented health challenges. The rigours of campaigns and presidential responsibilities also make this worse.

So, what happens if a presidential candidate dies before the elections in Nigeria?

It depends on when a presidential candidate dies

The answer to this question is in Section 34 of the Electoral Act (Amended) 2022 and applies to both presidential and gubernatorial elections.

If the candidate dies before the polls are opened, INEC can delay the elections for a maximum of 14 days, and the party can choose a new nominee. Parties could revert to the primary runners-up or use a different method to determine their flagbearer.

However, if the death occurs after the polls open but before a winner has been declared, INEC can delay the elections for up to 21 days. The difference is that, in this case, the running-mate moves to the top of the ballot and selects someone else to complete the ticket.

If a president-elect dies before taking the oath, the vice-presidential nominee will be sworn in as president and nominate a vice-president to be approved by a joint sitting of the National Assembly. However, if both the presidential and vice-presidential die before taking the oath, INEC will conduct new elections.

Has this happened before?

In November 2015, Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC Kogi Governorship nominee, died after the elections ended and while officials were still collating data. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive because the margin between the top two candidates was less than the number of votes from the 91 polling units where the election was cancelled.

Before the supplementary election, the APC picked Yahaya Bello, the runner-up in the primaries, as their new candidate over Audu’s running mate. Bello would go on to win the election and a second term.

Where else?