The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said a total of 73 out of Nigeria’s 91 political political parties will take part in next year’s general elections having submitted details of their candidates to the commission before the deadlines.
Chairman of the Commission Mahmood Yakubu, said this in his opening remarks at the two-day capacity building workshop by INEC and the European Center for Elelectoral Support (ECES) to train journalists on INEC beat.
He also said the commission has been joined as a respondent in about 396 suits in various courts across the nation.
He revealed that at the end of the period for the substitution and withdrawal of candidates for the presidential election, 73 political parties had filed their nominations.
He also said a few parties (which he did not name) among the 79 that listed presidential candidates, nominated candidates below the mandatory age of thirty-five (35) years for presidential and vice presidential candidates and the attention of the parties concerned had been drawn to it.
Noting the importance of the media, he said the commission sees the press as partners and is organising the workshop to “carry the press along for the success of the general election”.
According to Mr Yakubu, elections are not just about the right to vote but the knowledge of the voting process.
This includes information about political parties, candidates and their programmes, facilitating the full participation of the citizenry in the democratic elections, “which is why the media plays an important role”.
“The media needs unfettered access to information,” he said.
With the campaigns for governorship and state assembly elections beginning Saturday, December 1, the commission has successfully implemented seven out of the 14 activities on the commission’s timetable, he said.
For National Assembly elections, he also revealed that 1,848 candidates: 1,615 males and 233 females are vying for 109 senatorial seats while 4,635 candidates: 4,066 male and 569 female are competing for the 360 seats in the House of Representatives.
For state elections, 1,068 candidates (980 males and 88 females) are contesting for 29 governorship positions with 805 males and 263 females for deputy governorship slots.
He said the commission was working on the list of candidates nominated by political parties for the 991 state assembly constituencies as well as the 68 area council chairpersons and councillorship positions.
He, however, assured the full list of candidates and their political parties will be published for public information in line with the commission’s timetable and schedule of activities.
The chairman lamented the nature of primaries by parties in recent times, and their internal party democracy.
He also revealed the commission has been joined in 396 pending actions in various courts across the country arising from the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties.
He said the commission also received 302 requests for Certified True Copies (CTC) of documents, mainly from its monitoring of party primaries and copies of personal particulars of candidates.
These requests, he said, are obviously a prelude to more court actions.
He said they also received 52 petitions and protests from aggrieved party aspirants. He said this implies that ahead of the general elections, there will be pre-election litigations.
“Parties that fail to respect the democratic process in selecting candidates during primary elections lose the moral right to complain about secondary elections. I wish to reassure the nation that we shall continue to maintain our neutrality as the umpire, registrar and regulator of political parties,” he said.
In his goodwill message, the project director, ECES, Rudolf Ebling, said in view of the commission’s commitment to conduct free and fair elections in 2019, it has become imperative to engage “unique groups” on emerging electoral issues.