•As Commission reveals elections dates for next 36 years
By Lateef Ibrahim
All the sixty-eight registered political parties in the country have thrown their weight behind the sequence for the 2019 general elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The political parties, under the aegis of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), maintained that it is a constitutional issue and hence the parties stand by the decision of the electoral body.
While speaking at the quarterly consultative meeting between the management of INEC and the political parties in Abuja, the Chairman of IPAC, Hon Mohammed
Na’Lado insisted that the electoral body is in order to stick to their guns, as all the necessary laws were yet to be amended.
The decision of the political parties followed the controversies trailing the recent bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, which seeks to reorder the elections. The bill proposed that the Presidential and National Assembly elections should hold last, while the governorship and State Assembly elections should take place first.
According to the time table and schedule of activities for the 2019 elections, the presidential and National Assembly elections are to hold on the 16th of February, 2019, while the governorship, state Assembly and the FCT council election is scheduled for 2nd of March, 2019.
Hon Na’Lado stressed that the issue is a constitutional one, adding that until the laws are amended, INEC order of election stands under the existing laws of the country. He said: “I think this is a constitutional issue and electoral matter. What INEC has done at the moment is based on what is in the provision of the constitution. If there is any law that supersedes what they have done, that law is not to be abandoned.
“So we stand on the same page. So we have to be working together, INEC, political parties and most important the stakeholders in the democratic development.”
The IPAC Chairman equally solicited the support of INEC in curbing money bags in politics, reasoning that without the support from the electoral body, the party machinary will be hijacked by moneybags.
Earlier, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had said the commission has fixed dates for future elections in the country even up till 2055.
Prof. Yakubu stressed that the initiative is to ensure stability and certainty in the country’s democratic process as obtained in the developed world like in United States where everybody knows the dates for presidential elections.
His words: “On this principle, the dates for the 2019 elections, as well as future elections are no longer a matter of speculation. In 2019, the dates are 16th February and 2nd March. In 2023, it is 18th February and 4th March; in 2027, 20th February and 6th March; 2031, it is 15th February and 1st March and so on.”
He stated that the idea is to “engender certainty in our electoral calendar, allows for long term planning by the commission as well as stakeholders and brings our democracy in line with the best practice around the world.
“I am glad that this decision has received the overwhelming support of stakeholders.”
On the issue of underage voting, Yakubu pleaded with the political parties to assist the commission to weed out ineligible voters from the voters’ register.
“I wish to appeal to political parties to help the commission in further cleaning up the voter register. This appeal is all the more pertinent here because in addition to the display of the voter register in every polling unit nationwide before the 2011 and 2015 general elections, for claims and objections, copies of the register were given to every political party at the time.
“In addition, the commission also availed each political party that fielded candidates in the five governorship elections conducted since the 2015 general elections a copy of the updated voter register for each state.
“However, as at today no political party has formally drawn the attention of the commission to the prevalence of ineligible persons based on their interrogation of the voter register”, he said.