The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again reminded political parties to furnish the commission with their election expenses and contribution reports in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
The commission noted that only seven out of 14 political parties that participated in the Edo State governorship election had complied, while only eight out of 17 that participated in Ondo State governorship met the demand.
The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, gave the reminder in his remarks during the quarterly meeting between the commission and political parties.
According to him, “may I also draw your attention to your obligation under Sections 92 (3) and 93(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which require political parties to submit to the commission their election expenses reports within six months and election contribution report within three months after the declarations of result of an election.
“We have reminded political parties of these obligations in respect of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections held last year. However, only seven out of 14 political parties have responded in the case of Edo State and 7 out of 17 for Ondo State. We wish to remind political parties of the consequences of the failure to do so as enshrined in the Electoral Act. We therefore expect all defaulting parties to comply in earnest as you prepare for forthcoming elections.”
INEC also frowned at the inability of the parties to conduct rancor-free primaries to elect their candidates for elections, adding that the commission was pained that party candidates are now determined by judgment of courts after winners of elections have been announced.
“The commission is not happy that candidates for elections are now being determined through litigation long after elections have been concluded and winners declared by INEC. The problem lies squarely with the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by some political parties. We urge you to hold yourselves to the same high standard of free, fair, and credible elections that you hold INEC in all elections,” Yakubu said.
According to him, “at our last meeting held on February 5, 2021, the main subject matter was our proposal to address the crisis of voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria. The commission proposed to do so by converting the well-known and well-established voting points and voting point settlements to polling units and consolidating them with the existing polling units.
“We decided to consult widely with stakeholders. Considering your central role in our democracy, the commission began the series of consultations with leaders of political parties. After extensive interactions with other stakeholders and fieldwork by officials of the commission, the number of polling units and consequently voter access to them has been substantially enhanced. Nigeria now has 176,846 polling units. Only Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the commission presented the new polling units to Nigerians and their distribution nationwide. The list is already uploaded on our website and social media platforms.
“On behalf of the commission, I would like to express our appreciation once again to leaders of political parties for your support. I want to reassure you that the commission will continue to consult you on matters critical to the consolidation of our electoral process.
“Infographics containing the summary of the new distribution of polling units in Nigeria is contained in your folders for this meeting. We believe that political parties will use the information in planning for future elections, including the nomination of your polling agents for elections.”
He added that, “closely tied to the expansion of voter access to polling units is the resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), including the creation of a portal that will enable Nigerians to commence their registration online before concluding the process physically at designated centres. The Commission has fixed Monday, June 28, 2021, for the exercise to commence nationwide. The CVR will be a major issue for discussion at this meeting. The commission will demonstrate to you how the proposed online registration will proceed, including a presentation of the new INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED).
“As you are aware, a number of bye-elections and major end of tenure elections are scheduled to hold before the 2023 General Election. This weekend, two bye-elections are holding in Kaduna State for the Sabon Gari State Constituency in which five political parties are fielding candidates and in Jigawa State for the Gwaram Federal Constituency where ten political parties are participating.
“We have concluded all arrangements for these bye-elections, including the sensitive materials that will arrive today in the two constituencies. So far, the processes have been rancour-free. We urge you to appeal to your candidates and supporters to maintain the current peaceful atmosphere. For the outstanding bye-elections, I want to assure you that as soon as vacancies are declared by the Hon. Speaker of the House of Representatives, we will release the timetable for the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau State and the Lere Federal Constituency of Kaduna State.
“Again, as you are aware, the commission has already released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Ekiti State Governorship elections holding on June 18, 2022, and that of Osun State holding on July 16, 2022. Copies of the timetable have been sent to your various offices officially, but we have also included the infographics in your folders for this meeting.
“There purpose of the advanced notice for the two elections is to provide you and other stakeholders ample time to prepare for the elections as we have done in similar situations in the past, the latest being the Anambra Governorship election and the area council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“In respect of the Anambra State Governorship election, all the 18 political parties have expressed interest to participate and have scheduled their primaries for the election in line with the dates provided for in the Timetable released by the commission.
“In the case of the FCT Area Council elections, political parties have concluded their primaries for the 68 constituencies made up of six area council chairmen and 62 councillors. A total of 14 out of 18 political parties have nominated 110 candidates for chairmanship/deputy chairmanship positions and 362 candidates for councillorships. Altogether, 14 political parties have nominated 472 candidates to vie for 68 elective positions in the FCT. An infographic distribution of the nominations by area councils is included in your folders for this meeting.
“On this note, I would like to remind political parties about the recent letters written to you by the commission on the imperative of complying with the provisions of the law as well as our regulations governing the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates.
“The commission is not happy that candidates for elections are now being determined through litigation long after elections have been concluded and winners declared by INEC. The problem lies squarely with the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by some political parties. We urge you to hold yourselves to the same high standard of free, fair, and credible elections that you hold INEC in all elections.
“You must ensure strict compliance with your party constitutions, the law and the commission’s regulations and guidelines on party primaries in particular and the management of party affairs in general. After all, Nigerians only exercise their democratic right to elect leaders from the candidates presented by political parties. Electing good leaders begins with the quality of primaries conducted by political parties. We will do our part to ensure that our elections continue to improve.
“May I also draw your attention to your obligation under Sections 92 (3) and 93(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which require political parties to submit to the commission their election expenses reports within six months and election contribution report within three months after the declarations of result of an election. We have reminded political parties of these obligations in respect of the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections held last year. However, only seven out of 14 political parties have responded in the case of Edo State and 8 out of 17 for Ondo State.
“We wish to remind political parties of the consequences of the failure to do so as enshrined in the Electoral Act. We, therefore, expect all defaulting parties to comply in earnest as you prepare for forthcoming elections.”
In his address, Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, said the parties were aware of the concerns raised by the commission.
According to him, “as party mangers, we have not swept these concerns under the carpet as we are convinced that why this have continued to thrive is partly on account of dearth of credible, quality, patriotic and selfless individuals with impeccable democratic credentials to drive the push for organic and representative democracy in the country.
“To this end, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), which I am privileged to lead is in advanced partnership discussion stage with the Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria to help strengthen capacity of political parties to conduct proper and professional due diligence on aspirants seeking to contest for various positions under the platforms of the various parties in the country before and after elections.
“We are hopeful that this effort will yield positive result as deep professional background checks exercised on aspirants to ascertain their integrity, credibility and electoral worth before and after polls with further scrutiny by security agencies and other stakeholders will help the polity. This will support the parties to have rancor free party primary.”
N’Delta Leaders Insist On Resource Control, Self-Determination
The leaders, who lamented that the people of the Niger Delta had been talking and agitating for resource control and restructuring of the country through conferences but to no avail, said the time had come for them to take their destiny in their hands.
In a keynote address at a conference by the Niger Delta Alternative Convergence (NDAC) to endorse the eight-point demand in the “Niger Delta Manifesto for Socio-Ecological Justice” in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, former Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian, Prof. G. G. Darah, said: “From the challenges we are facing in the Niger Delta region, we seem to assume that the Federal Government is on our side whereas the Federal Government is the number one enemy of the Niger Delta.
“Today, people are anxious to be the president of Nigeria because there is the Niger Delta oil for them to squander. What this means is that the political system is all organised for taking control of the oil money, to share it among the friends of the president. All the parties are organised gangs to loot and plunder the Niger Delta resources.
“That is the country we are in. Therefore, we must assume that whatever government that comes to office in 2023 will not be different from the past ones since 1960. Nigeria has been designed to steal our resources and share. They gather monthly in Abuja to share the money. All our presidents, now and past, occupied office for the purpose of plundering our resources, otherwise our own son would have done something. Jonathan, when he was president, had no capacity to touch any bad section of the constitution against the Niger Delta”.
According to Darah, “Nigeria exists today because of Niger Delta oil and Nigeria is the only country in the world that has colonised its people.
“Now, we are pleading that the Federal Government should implement the manifesto. We have to do it by ourselves because if you look at history, it is not today that our people have been fighting against injustice. Jonathan called for a national conference and all the issues raised could not be implemented. So, what we are doing now is the authentication of the national conference for Nigerian people.
“The structure of Nigeria is against us and to build a new Nigeria will take time. We need a Niger Delta that will be in charge of its own resources and aim to be a country of its own, a sovereign country. Some ethnic groups in the Niger Delta are bigger than some European countries and our ancestors in their grave will not forgive us that we succumbed cheaply. We are well populated”.
Prof. Lucky Akaruese of the Ishekiri nationality aligned with the position of Darah, noting that many countries of the world like East Timo and Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, Denmark and Norway, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union that split into many countries are products of negotiations, so the Niger Delta and Nigeria cannot be an exception.
A prominent traditional ruler from Rivers State backed the demand for a sovereign state.
“I agree with Prof. Darah that we should clamour for Niger Delta Republic, and the manifesto we are signing today, we should speak with one voice. We have been talking and now it is only action that will bring result. There is nothing the Niger Delta has gotten without struggle.
“The manifesto will remain a document if we do not put it to action. The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) presented a 16-point agenda but only two were implemented. So, we need to take a deliberate action on some of the issues we raise here.”
The convener of NDAC and Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Comrade Nnimmo Bassey, said: “The convergence also aims to produce an inclusive Niger Delta Manifesto for Socio-Ecological Justice highlighting needed alternatives for transformation and social mobilisations for resource justice. It is hoped that NDAC will provoke a platform for convergence of communities in the region to galvanise action for needed changes for re-source access, including through demands for legislative changes, debates on the Petroleum Industry Bill and for critical attainment of re-source democracy – defined as the right of a people to live in harmony with nature and to retain a right to use, or not use, the gifts of nature.”
He stated that 64 years of oil extraction had brought untold misery and cut life abysmally low in the region.
“Things cannot continue this way. We have demands and resolves in the proposed Niger Delta Manifesto shared to delegates. Let’s all rise to be counted, demand that politicians declare their environmental plans before they gain our votes. Let us demand real climate action, including a halt to gas flaring and a restoration of our ecosystems. Let us demand action to stall the washing away of our communities. After 64 years of a nightmare, it is time to wake up, it is time to demand socio-ecological justice. We are not calling for charity, we are calling for justice”.
Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, and the National Chairman of PANDEF, Senator Ibok Essien, clamoured for restructuring and total control of resources.
They pleaded with the people of the region to get their PVCs to vote people that will carry out restructuring of the country.
Nwuke Dismisses Wike’s Alleged Plan To Dump PDP
There have been insinuations that Wike might join either the Labour Party or the New Nigeria Political Party (NNPP) ahead of the 2023 general election.
This is coming after the governor met with the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi; and the presidential candidate of NNPP, Rabiu Kwankwaso, in Port Harcourt, last week.
While speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt,Nwuke said Wike has no plans to dump the PDP for any other party.
He further stated that the Rivers State governor would not defect considering the large followership he has built across the country.
Nwuke said, ”It just tells you who Governor Wike is. This is the first time he is playing national politics. But you can see that Wike has entered the minds of a lot of Nigerians. They are taking him seriously. Even the performance at the convention where the North rallied behind the scene to stop him, did not end in disgrace.
“So, if you look at the outcome of the convention, you will know that Governor Wike controls a sizable number of PDP members. A huge segment of the party is behind him. When you look at the gap between him and Atiku Abubakar and the gap between him and the rest, that should tell you something that the one we have been talking about has become notable when it comes to Nigeria’s politics.
“Frankly, he has followership in the North-Central; followership in the South-West; followership in the South-South and followership in the South-East. So, I am not surprised that a lot of people are coming to Port Harcourt, and saying, ‘Governor, why not come fully into the campaigns?’ They need him in the PDP house, and I am glad that Governor Wike has said ‘I am not going anywhere’.”
2023: Guber Candidate Faults INEC On APC, LP Placeholders
Recall that some presidential flagbearers picked vice Presidential candidates as placeholders, prompting reactions from cross sections of Nigerians.
Odefe said INEC erred by discrediting the candidates that picked placeholders in the build up to the general election in 2023.
He said, “As a political activist and a former three-time governorship candidate, I am compelled to react to the recent claim by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through its National Commissioner, Barr. Festus Okoye, that there exists no place in Nigerian Constitution and Legal Framework for what is now described as “placeholders” in Nigeria’s electoral process specifically as it concerns submission, change or substitution of names of candidates for general elections by registered political parties.
“This claim by INEC is a fundamental falsehood deliberately made by it to mislead Nigerian voters and to cast aspersion on some political parties like APC and Labour Party which publicly disclosed that the names they submitted to INEC as their Vice Presidential Candidates were meant only to beat the June 17, 2022 date set by INEC but which they may change or substitute within the window provided by the sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2021, as amended to do so.
“Contrary to INEC’s claim, I wish to state unequivocally that actions taken by APC and LP are constitutional and in line with sections 29, 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2021, as amended. The use of the word, “Placeholder” is merely misinterpreted by INEC. “Placeholder” simply means that it is not substantive but temporarily standing in for something or someone else. The word is used in solving Algebraic Expression and Equations in Mathematics.
“Let me also inform Nigerians that this idea of changing or substituting candidates for general elections have been in our electoral laws of 2006, 2010 and now 2021, as amended.
“Furthermore, it is imperative for me to inform Nigerians that changing or substituting candidates for elections is not limited to only Vice Presidential Candidates as we now seem to focus on. In fact, all names so far submitted by Political Parties to INEC as Presidential, Vice Presidential, Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly Candidates are all “Placeholders” and can be changed or substituted before the 90 days to date of election, after which, no change or substitution is allowed except in case of death of a candidate.
“In conclusion, APC and LP have not acted against the Constitution and Electoral Act of Nigeria”.
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