Seventy three political parties beat the deadline by submitting nominations for 2019 presidential election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed.
The National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the opening ceremony of a two-day capacity building workshop for journalists on Friday in Abuja.
The commission had earlier announced receipt of 79 candidates as at the close of submission of nomination forms in October.
Yakubu said:”at the end of the period for the substitution and withdrawal of candidates for the Presidential election, a total of 73 political parties have now fileded their nominations.
“Even so, a few parties have nominated candidates below the mandatory age of 35 years as Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates.
“We have drawn the attention of the parties concerned to the breach of the constitutional requirement ahead of the publication of the full list of presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2019 General Elections.
“For National Assembly elections, a total of 1,848 candidates (1,615 males and 233 females) are vying for 109 Senatorial seats, while 4,635 candidates (4,066 males and 569 females) are competing for the 360 seats in the House of Representatives,” he said.
The chairman also said that the full list of candidates and their political parties would be published for public information in line with the commission’s timetable and schedule of activities.
“As for State elections, a total of 1,068 candidates made up of 980 males and 88 females are contesting for 29 Governorship positions with 805 males and 263 females as deputy governorship candidates.
“The commission is working on the list of candidates nominated by political parties for the 991 State Assembly constituencies as well as the 68 Area Council Chairmen and Councillors for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He expressed concern about what he described as “acrimonious party primaries”, saying that internal party democracy was still a source of concern to the nation’s electoral process.
Yakubu said that so far, INEC had 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.
“We have similarly received 302 requests for Certified True Copies (CTC) of documents, mainly our monitoring reports of party primaries and copies of personal particulars of candidates. These requests are obviously a prelude to more court actions.
“In addition, we have also received 52 petitions and protests from aggrieved party aspirants. The implication of these challenges is that as we prepare for the General Elections, we are also going to grapple with 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,” he said.
He reassured Nigerians that INEC was ready and committed to free, fair and credible elections, adding that the commission would continue to maintain its neutrality as the umpire, registrar and regulator of political parties.
The chairman, then, disclosed that the commission had successfully implemented seven out of 17 activities toward the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
The Project Coordinator, European Centre For Election Support (ECES) , Nigeria, Mr Rudolf Elbling, said that in view of INEC’s commitment to conduct free and fair elections in 2019, it became Imperative to engage the media on emerging electoral Issues.
Elbling said that the workshop was one in several other activities ECES had supported the INEC to organise in the lead up to the general elections in 2019.
“ECES has supported a review of the INEC Communication policy, several voter education outreaches and Electoral Operations departments through the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC), an election management tool which is currently ongoing.
“These include several workshops to enhance the capacity of the INEC legal, Election and Party Monitoring, Election Alternative Dispute Resolution and Voter Education and Publicity departments among other initiatives of the Commission,” he said.
Speaking on the aims and objectives of the workshop, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said that it was aimed at deepening journalists’ understanding of INEC’s vision, mission and actions.
Oyekanmi said the event was also to enhance their understanding on the commission’s processes and procedures with the aim of improving their ability to report on these aspects more accurately.
“It also aimed at providing the participants with the opportunity to seek clarification on all issues connected to the electoral system and conduct of elections.
“The depth, quality and accuracy of their reportage of INEC activities will largely depend on the quantum of information at their disposal on one hand, and how knowledgeable they are about the organisations’ processes and procedures on the other,” he said.
He enjoined all participants to take full advantage of the opportunity by attending and actively participating in all sessions.
The Chairman of INEC Press Corps, Mr Oke Nnabuchi, said members of the group were commitment to supporting the commission to conduct credible elections through credible and professional reportage of electoral activities.