The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)has cleared 23 political parties to challenge the governorship race in Kogi State. The commission likewise cleared 45 Political Parties to challenge the governorship Election in Bayelsa State.
Meanwhile the two Elections come up around the same day on November 16.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in a statement issued in Abuja, also disclosed that 19 political parties willingly withdrew their nominations for the elections.
Mr Okoye said that out of the 14 rejected invalid nominations, eight were from Kogi, while six were rejected from Bayelsa.
He said that at the close of nomination, 23 political parties were cleared in Kogi with18 parties withdrawing from the race, while one party withdrew in Bayelsa leaving 45 political parties in the race.
“At the close of the time stipulated by sections 31, 33 and 35 of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the submission of the names of nominated candidates, 49 nominations were received for Kogi.
“Out of these, 41 nominations were valid, while eight were invalid. Subsequently, 18 political parties withdrew from contesting the elections. Therefore, 23 political parties will contest the governorship election in Kogi.
“For Bayelsa State, a total of 52 nominations were received. Out of these, 46 were valid, while 6 were invalid.
“One political party has since withdrawn from the contest, leaving a total of 45 political parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa.’’
Mr Okoye recalled that INEC monitored the primaries conducted for the nomination of candidates for the two states and also made public its preliminary review of the list and personal particulars submitted by the parties at the close of nomination.
“After the review, we disclosed that some of the nominated candidates for governorship and deputy were below the minimum age prescribed by the constitution and that the commission was considering further action.
“In a letter dated September 13, the Commission notified the concerned political parties of the invalidity of their nominations.
“In Bayelsa State, six of the nominated Governorship and/or Deputy Governorship candidates were affected, while in Kogi State there were eight such nominees.
Some of the affected parties have written the Commission admitting their error and requesting to submit new nominees to replace the under-aged ones.
“However, this was after the deadline for submission of nominations on September 9, 2019. As such, the Commission could not accept any fresh nominations.
“In like manner, since the parties did not submit valid nominations before the deadline; they cannot substitute the candidates on the grounds of death or voluntary withdrawal, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which assumes the prior existence of valid nominations.’’
Mr Okoye said that members of the public may recall that just before the 2019 general elections, INEC had cause to draw the attention of political parties to the same problem of nominating under-aged candidates.
“That communication was a notice to the parties that future violation of such a basic provision of the Constitution will be unacceptable and could lead to severe consequences.
“Accordingly, the Commission has informed the affected parties that their names and logos will not appear on the ballots for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections due to the invalidity of their nominations.’’
He said that in compliance with section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated would be published in the relevant offices on Monday, September 30.
He added that it would also be made available on the INEC website.
INEC delivers non-sensitive materials for Bayelsa, Kogi gov elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission says it has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Thursday in Lagos during the Anniversary Colloquium marking the Press Week of the Lagos State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme for the colloquium, organised to mark the second anniversary of the incumbent executive of the state NUJ, was, ‘Ensuring Credible Off-season Elections in Nigeria.’
Yakubu, represented by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said all the sensitive materials would be delivered one month before the election in November.
The INEC chairman added that the commission had made available for collection all uncollected Permanent Voter Cards, pointing out September 30 was deadline for the exercise.
Yakubu, however, noted that some concerns of possible violence had been raised about the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, given the violence that led to the declaration of inconclusive elections in the two states in 2015.
“Therefore, politicians in Bayelsa and Kogi must shed the toga of political violence associated with elections in the two states.
”The commission will continue to work with security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security to provide adequate security for all our elections.
“Nigerians deserve and should always have free, fair and credible elections. INEC owes the nation and Nigerians a duty to ensure that votes count.
“The present commission has demonstrated this commitment in all the elections it has conducted, in spite of multiple challenges.
Ultimately, the commission’s ability to organise credible elections also depend on the cooperation of all stakeholders in the electoral process and the strict adherence to the rules of the game.
“The commission will continue to ensure that votes count,” he noted.
Also speaking at the colloquium, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by Mr. Tijani Ismail, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, said there were widely-held views that Nigeria was gradually moving towards an era where the media will exert greater influence on the electoral process.
He commended the media for enlightening the citizens on elections, noting that due to media efforts, many citizens are now educated about the electoral process.