Friday, 17 August 2018

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING THE GOVERNOR OF A STATE IN NIGERIA

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Growing up many children nurtured big dreams of becoming Governors and even the President of Nigeria. Many have since abandoned these dreams for numerous reasons. Yet, there are people who are still ardently pursuing this dream. If you fall into this category of people or are just curious as to what is required to be a Governor in Nigeria then this article is for you.

To be elected as Governor of a State in Nigeria, one must fulfill the following requirements:
  1. He must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
  2. He must have attained the age of thirty-five years;
  3. He must be a member of a political party and that political party must have sponsored him; and
  4. He must also be educated to at least the School certificate level or its equivalent.
A person is disqualified for election to the office of Governor of a State where any of the following occurs:
  1. He has willingly acquired the citizenship of another country or he has pledged allegiance to that other country in cases other than those prescribed by the National Assembly.
  2. He has held such office by election at any two previous elections. This basically means that a person cannot become Governor for a third tenure.
  3. He is adjudged a lunatic or declared to be of unsound mind under any law in any part of Nigeria.
  4. He has been sentenced to death by a competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or has a sentence of imprisonment for any offence involving dishonesty or fraud.
  5. He has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or has been found guilty of the contravention of the Code of Conduct within a period of less than ten years before the date of election to the office of Governor of the state
  6. He is an undischarged bankrupt who has been declared bankrupt under a law in operation in Nigeria.
  7. He is a person employed in the Public Service of the Federation or of any State and has not withdrawn or retired from the employment at least thirty days to the date of the election.
  8. He is a member of any secret society
  9. He presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
HOW THE ELECTION IS DONE: The electoral body in Nigeria (Independent National Electoral Commission - INEC) fixes the date for election to the office of Governor of a State.
 
Usually, the election of a new Governor takes place while the incumbent is still in office and should be held on a date not before 150 days and not later than 120 days before the term of the sitting Governor expires. In other words, the determining factor for when elections for a new governor is scheduled is the date of expiration of the term of the sitting Governor.  

In Nigeria, if after say three political parties have nominated their Governorship Candidates and only one of the three candidates remains after the close of nomination by virtue of the others being disqualified, incapacitated, having withdrawn, disappearing or their death; then the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must extend the time for nomination of candidates.

It is required that where there is only one candidate nominated for election to the Office of Governor, he is regarded as duly elected where he has a majority of YES votes over NO votes cast at the election. He must also have obtained at least 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.

Where there are two or more nominated candidates, a candidate will be regarded as duly elected into the Office of Governor of the State where he has the highest number of votes cast at the election. He must also have at least one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the Local Government Areas in the State.

TENURE OF OFFICE: When a Governor has been duly elected to Office, he may hold such office until:
  • his successor in office takes the Oath of that office, or
  • he dies while holding that office, or
  • the date when his resignation from office takes effect; or
  • he ceases to hold office based on the provisions of the Constitution.
The Governor of a State must vacate his office at the expiration of four years starting from the date he took the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office (for a person first elected as Governor) or from the date the last person elected to that office took the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office or would have taken such but for his death.
It should also be noted that the Governor of a State is not expected to hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever whilst he is Governor.

Deputy Governor: Here’s how this works. No separate elections are done for a Deputy Governor but a Governorship Candidate is not regarded as validly nominated unless he nominates another person as his Deputy. For a person to be regarded as duly elected to the Office of Deputy Governor, the Governorship Candidate must have successfully been voted in as the Governor of that State. 

It is important to note that all the requirements on qualification for election, disqualifications and tenure of office for a Governor apply to the Deputy Governor as well.
 

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