Senate Kicks against INEC’s Clearance of Many Candidates for Kogi, Bayelsa Guber Polls

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Electoral body recruits 26,000 ad-hoc staff

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate wednesday faulted the clearance of many governorship candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the forthcoming governorship elections in both Kogi and Bayelsa states on November 16.

Its committee on INEC at a meeting with the leadership of the commission has therefore described the clearance of the candidates as a clear contravention of the provisions of the amended 2010 Electoral Act.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said the number of political parties, including failed ones that would be contesting elections was a contravention of the amended electoral act.

Gaya asked the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, why such “failed” political parties would be allowed to appear on the ballot in Kogi and Bayelsa.

“Those parties that didn’t perform shouldn’t be on the ballot. The existing Electoral Act as amended has precluded participation of parties that didn’t perform in the last elections. Why are you putting them in the ballot in the forthcoming elections?”

He, however, expressed his committee’s resolve to reduce the number of existing political parties to three or five.

“We need to amend the act to reduce the political parties to a maximum of five; this committee is really committed to reducing the number of political parties to save tax payers money. “

While wishing INEC success in the conduct of the November 16 governorship poll, the former Kano State governor said his committee would ensure that INEC continue to play by the rules to inspire public confidence in the electoral process.

“We wish you success in Kogi and Bayelsa states. The very essence of this meeting is to identify the loopholes in the 2019 general elections and move towards correcting them through amendment of the electoral act. This is to ensure transparency in the electoral process for free, fair and credible elections. It will enhance the credibility of INEC and Nigeria in the eyes of the global community. We are determined to fashion out credible road map for credible elections. Of course, there are challenges but we must get it right. “

In his response, INEC chairman, Yakubu said his commission was in a fix to take decisive action to deregister political parties as a result of pending electoral litigations which could alter its judgment.

He disclosed that INEC has commenced the process of recruiting and training 26,000 ad -hoc staff for the conduct of Kogi and Bayelsa states governorship elections.

According to him, the commission had systematically deregister under the electoral act but the parties insisted that the electoral act is inferior to the Constitution.

“Again, at what point can we say election has been concluded? Is it after we have issued certificate of return or after the courts have concluded judgments on petitions arising from elections?”

Speaking on INEC’s preparation for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls, Yakubu said all non-sensitive materials had since been deployed to the two states

“There are 14 activities towards the Kogi and Bayelsa, we have done 10. We are fully prepared. The terrain is difficult but we are making arrangement with National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW). All non- sensitive materials have been deployed”.