Do you think you have what it takes to be President? Interested in finding out what the eligibility requirements are? Then look no further. In this article we explain the process to become a President in Nigeria – what the eligibility criteria is, what the steps are etc. To become the President of Nigeria, there are essentially three steps you need to get through.
Step 1 – Personal Eligibility: Are you qualified to run for President?
The thing about the qualification for President Is a bit counter intuitive, even though it is the biggest and most important job in the country, it has the most basic educational criteria, and this is by design. The intention is to make it as accessible for any single Nigerian to be able to run for President. The section of the law which deals with eligibility to run for President is Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution. It has 4 key criteria which are as follows –
- Must be a Nigerian citizen by birth
- Must be at least 40 years old
- Must be a member of a political party and sponsored to the office of the President
- Must be educated up to at least School Certificate level
Regarding the last qualification – education up to at least School certificate level, there has been some confusion in the past as to whether this means a graduate of secondary school etc. However, Section 308 (1) of the Constitution has explained this it states that “School Certificate or its equivalent” means
(a) a Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or
(b) education up to Secondary School Certificate level; or
(c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent and –
(i) service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years, and
(ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one year, and
(iii) the ability to read, write, understand, and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and
(d) any other qualification acceptable by the INEC
So, if you meet any of the above criteria, then you would meet the 4th criteria to be eligible to run for President in Nigeria
Step 2 – Party Eligibility
This is technically part of step 1 as it is one of the four basic criteria set out in Section 130 of the Constitution however we have set it aside for review as step 2 because it deals with issues outside of the personal control of the person who wants to run for the office of President of Nigeria.
Step 2 deals with the fact that the person must be a member of a political party – this party must therefore have been registered with the INEC (interested in finding out about how to register a political party? Our article here explains the process)
Once a member of the party, the person must then have been sponsored to the office of the President. What this means is that the person must be nominated as the party flagbearer in the election through the process of a primary election in the party.
The Electoral Act allows political parties to nominate candidates by any of the following means
Direct primaries – all registered members of the party vote for the aspirants
Indirect primaries – delegates vote for the aspirants
Consensus – all cleared aspirants for the position voluntarily withdraw from the race and endorse one candidate, this must be in writing.
So, if the aspirant has cleared the above process, then he/she has crossed step 2.
Step 3 – General Election
The third and final step is to be elected at the general election, and the process is also contained in the Constitution.
Sections 133 provides that if there is only one candidate for the election, he/she shall have been duly elected with a majority of YES votes over NO votes and has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
Section 134(1) provides that if there are only two candidates for the election, he/she shall have been duly elected with a majority of votes cast at the election and has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Section 134(2) provides that if there is more than one candidate for the election, he/she shall have been duly elected with the highest number of votes cast at the election, and has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election each of at least two-thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
So, there you have it – a short guide to the process to become the President of Nigeria.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.