- As ruling party nullifies suspension of N/East national vice chair
By Lateef Ibrahim and Umar Muhammad Puma
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insisted yesterday that it stands by its statement that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will not be allowed to field candidates for the 2019 general elections in Zamafa State.
The commission maintained that the APC remains barred from fielding candidates for the 2019 general elections.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this in an interview with journalists at the opening of a two day validation workshop titled, “Study on the cost of elections in ECOWAS Region” held on Monday in Abuja.
When asked to comment on the update on the Commission’s decision on Zamfara State, Yakubu said nothing has changed.
According to him, “We have issued a statement on Zamfara and nothing has changed. We stand by the statement that we issued.”
The INEC Chairman maintained that the deadline for submission of candidates names was on Oct 18, saying the commission would give a full report after Nov. 18.
The electoral body, it will be recalled, had informed the ruling APC in a leaked memo that the party would not be allowed to field candidates for elective positions in Zamfara State in the 2019 elections.
The commission’s acting secretary, Okechukwe Ndeche in a letter to the APC said that the party was barred from fielding candidates for Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections, as it failed to comply with Sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act of 2010.
Parties, according to the act, were expected to comply with the timetable and schedule of INEC, which says that the conduct of primaries must be concluded between 18 August and 7 October, 2018.
INEC said it received reports from its Zamfara office, indicating that no primaries were conducted in the state “notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed”.
However, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, also responded to INEC in a statement, and said the party had already arrived at a consensus before the deadline.
Oshiomhole said that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threats of violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.
Meanwhile, the APC yesterday nullified the purported suspension of National Vice Chairman (North East), Comrade Mustapha Salihu by the North East Zonal Office.
The party, in a statement issued yesterday by the National publicity Secretary Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu said the purported suspension is a nullity as the “North East Zonal Office” does not have such powers to suspend a National Officer.
He explained that the Party’s constitution is very clear as such powers reside with the National Executive Committee (NEC).
“Whatever issues there might be, the party structure and constitution provides ample avenues for redress and dispute resolution.
“If the “North East Zonal Office” is unable to achieve a resolution, the National Working Committee (NWC) can, and will, wade in the matter to achieve amicable settlement.”
In his speech at the opening of the two day validation workshop titled, “Study on the cost of elections in ECOWAS Region” yesterday, the INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed that at a bilateral level, countries within the region have provided material and technical assistance to one another to support the conduct of credible elections, pointing out that the latest example is Nigeria’s support for the ongoing voter registration exercise in Guinea-Bissau.
He revealed that “Even when an election is a sovereign national responsibility, multi-lateral agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), working together with other development partners, have, in some cases, provided support through the donor basket to fund certain electoral expenditure.
“While this is most commendable, it is imperative for Electoral Commissions in the ECOWAS region to rethink the way elections are funded in such a manner as to make the electoral process more cost-effective but yet free, fair and credible.
“This is because of the contending expenditure of government on other aspects of national development. An expensive election that ushers in a Government that lacks the resources to fulfill its campaign promises to citizens may, in the long run, erode public confidence in elections in particular and the democratic process in general.
“The obvious first step is to conduct a study on why elections cost so much. From such a study, we can then determine what can be done to reduce the cost,” he said.