â€¢Â Presidential, National Assembly ElectionsÂ Feb 16, 2019, Governorship, State Assembly, Others,Â March 2, 2019
By Okon BasseyÂ in Uyo
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)Â FridayÂ confirmed that the Presidential and National Assembly Elections will hold onÂ February16,Â 2019Â while the Governorship, state Assembly and Area Council Election in the Federal Capital Territory would take place onÂ March 2, 2019.
The chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu confirmed the dates at the induction retreat for Resident Electoral Commissioners held at the Le-Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
â€œThe date for the 2019 general election has already been fixed. This means that from today, we have exactly 434 days to the Presidential Election and National Assembly Election. It is important to always remind ourselves of this date and to be tracking and appraising our preparations.
â€œAll participants at this retreat should be aware that as today, the 2019 general elections to begin with the Presidential and National Assembly Elections onÂ 16th February 2019Â are exactly 434 days away.
â€œThese will be followed by the Governorship, State and Areas, State Assembly and Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory onÂ 2nd March 2019â€,Â the INEC boss stressed.
According to him, so far 3,630,529 new voters had been registered, adding that the exercise would continue until 60 days to the 2019 general elections. He however expressed concern over the management and the low rate of collection of the Permanent Voter Cards.
Prof. Yakubu equally disclosed that no fewer than 167 political parties are indicating interest to contest in the 2019 general elections.
â€œSo far, the Commission has received over 120 applications from political associations seeking registration as political parties.
â€œAlready, there are 46 registered political parties and recently a court of law ordered the Commission to register one more association as political parties.
â€œThe expansion in the number of political parties and possibleÂ independent candidates as contained in the proposed constitutional amendments now awaiting the concurrence of State Assemblies mean that we need to think fast and place properly especially in the management of the ballot,â€ he stressed.
Reaffirming the determination of the Commission, Yakubu said â€œOur desire is to entrench a truly democratic system for all citizens and not a plutocracy open only to the rich.
â€œViolence, hate speech and inducement of voters are criminal activities punishable under the laws,â€ he said, stressing the need for INEC family to hold regular meetings to discuss these unwholesome practices.â€
He charged the State Resident Electoral Commissioners to demonstrate a high sense of personal integrity, ethical conduct and impeccable standard of behavior and prudence in managing resources.
The Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini had said that the theme of the retreat â€œPolitical and Institutional Contexts for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections as well as operational planning and monitoring tools were apt both in content, significance and topicality.
He expressed optimisms that the decisions reach at the retreat would be a road map to obtain fair and credible elections comes 2019.
Also speaking, the Country Director of UNDP in Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Bwalya, said INEC had become a pace-setter in elections management in West African sub region.
He urged the commission to address the issues of violence, poor internal party democracy, low levels of accountability and transparency within political institutions.
Bwalya who was represented by Mr. Kehinde Bolaji, Team Leader, Governance and Peace building said without being addressed, those challenges could derail progress towards attaining long lasting democratic governance.
He said that UNDP would continue to support the country in deepening democracy, peace and sustainable human development.