What is a run-off election and how is it conducted?
The law requires INEC to conduct a run-off election within 21 days after the first election if ...
To win a presidential (or governorship) election in Nigeria, a candidate must meet two constitutional requirements.
What are the conditions?
Section 134 (2) of the constitution stipulates that a candidate is required to secure the majority of votes, as well as 25% of the votes cast in two-thirds of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Two-thirds in this case means a candidate must win at least 25% of votes cast in 24 states. Without hitting this mark, a candidate cannot be declared a winner even if he/she meets the second condition — winning the majority of votes.
So, if no candidate meets the two requirements as stipulated in the constitution, a second election would be conducted. This second poll is called a run-off election.
So, what is a run-off election?
A run-off election helps to determine a winner when no candidate in the first election meets the two critical conditions for victory.
The law requires the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a run-off election within 21 days after the first election.
How is a run-off election conducted?
Not all the candidates who participated in the first election are eligible for the second round of voting.
For instance, if the 2023 presidential election advances to a run-off, only two out of the 18 candidates would make it to the second round.
The two candidates are:
- The candidate with the highest number of votes in the first round.
- The candidate who has a majority of votes in the highest number of states.
However, if there are more than one candidate with a majority of votes in the highest number of states, the candidate with the highest number of votes will be picked for a run-off.
This implies that a candidate who scored the second-highest number of votes in the first round might not qualify for a second election because the criterion for the second candidate for a run-off is about the majority of votes in the highest number of states.
Unlike the first round, a run-off election is decided by a simple majority — any candidate who secures the highest number of votes wins the election.
Is INEC prepared for this?
INEC has already announced its readiness to conduct a run-off election if there’s no clear winner after the February 25 presidential election.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, said INEC has printed 93.5 million extra ballot papers for a possible run-off election.
He also promised that the election would be conducted strictly in line with Section 134 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Okoye said, “We are comfortable with the level of our preparations and as the chairman of the commission has assured the nation, never again will scheduled elections be postponed or rescheduled on account of logistics and logistics challenges.
“If, for example, we are printing 93 million ballot papers for the first presidential election, we will also print 93 million for the run-off election — in case there is no clear winner in the first election”.
So, if the forthcoming presidential election requires a run-off for a winner to emerge, INEC is expected to conduct a run-off election that will produce Nigeria’s next president.
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