•Nnamani, Bello head Edo, Ondo APC reconciliation committees
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Fourteen of the fifteen political parties that indicated interest in contesting the September 19 Edo State governorship election met the deadline for the submission of the nomination forms of their candidates, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) said in a statement last night by its National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye.
The electoral body had closed its dedicated portal for the submission of the parties’ nominees on Monday night, promising to vet the nominations yesterday.
Meanwhile, one of the contesting parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday began the process of reconciliation after years of internal wrangling with the composition of two committees to resolve bickering among its members in Edo and Ondo states.
The party’s Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee named former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, and Governor of Niger State, Mr. Abubakar Bello, to chair the reconciliation committees for Edo and Ondo states respectively.
Meanwhile, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission would prefer electronic balloting in Anambra State governorship election scheduled for 2021 as well as electronic voting in subsequent elections
The statement listed the parties and their candidates that beat the deadline as Action Alliance, Mr. Obahafuosu Paul, 35, running with Mr. Sunday Johnbull, 35.
ADC has Mr. Aikhigbe Benjamin, 38, running with Ms. Mabel Akomu Oboh, 56; ADP, Obvious Emmanuel, 36, with Desmond Kola Imasuen, 36; APC has Osagie Ize-Iyamu, 58, with Audu Abiding Ganiyu, 50.
APGA has Lucky Osagie Idehen, 45 as the governorship candidate, running with Mallam Isah Suleiman Asekhaimen, 40; APM, Igbenieweka Osamuede 42, with Obiyan Christian age 40; APP, Amos Areloegbe, 52, with Afolabi Saki-Ogah, 56; Labour Party, Paid Isaiah, 60, with Omobayo Marvellous, 35; NNPP, Agol Tracy, 48, with Enobhaysobo Jonathan, 57; NPM, Steve Ozono, 53, with Osadolor Festus, 53.
PDP has Godwin Obaseki, 63, running with Philip Shaibu, 50; SDP, Felix Obayangbon, 63, with Onion Omonye, 37; YPP, Jones Osagiobare, 52, with Samson Idowoage, 49; and ZLP, Akhalamhe Amiemenoghena, 39, with Thompson Osadolor, 64.
Okoye said the provisional list of the candidates disaggregated on the basis of name, gender, age and qualification has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms, adding that as required by law, the particulars of the nominated candidates would be published in the commission’s office in Edo State and simultaneously uploaded on its website on Thursday, July 2, 2020.
He said: “We encourage members of the public to go through the nomination forms, affidavits and documents submitted by the parties on behalf of their candidates, as any person, who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information in the affidavit or any document submitted by any candidate is false, may file a suit at the Federal High Court, High Court of a state or the FCT against such a candidate seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false. The final list of duly nominated candidates will be published on August 13, 2020, after withdrawals by candidates and substitution by their political parties.”
On Ondo State governorship election and Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election, he said: “We remind political parties interested in nominating candidates for Ondo State governorship election that the conduct of party primaries will commence on July 2 and end on July 25, 2020. The last date for the submission of the names of duly nominated candidates is July 28, 2020. For the Nasarawa State Central Constituency bye-election, the conduct of primaries for the nomination of candidates starts today, June 30 and will end on July 6, 2020.”
On the nomination of candidates, Okoye said that the commission is encouraged by the seamless online nomination of candidates for Edo State governorship election using the newly-introduced dedicated portal.
The same procedure, he said, would apply to Ondo State governorship, Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election and all subsequent elections to be conducted by the commission.
Accordingly, he said political parties are encouraged to obtain their nomination access codes from the commission for the bye-election and upload the list of their candidates and their particulars to the dedicated portal between July 3 and July 7, 2020.
For Ondo State governorship election, the INEC commissioner said the commission’s dedicated portal for the submission of the names of candidates that emerge from valid party primaries would open on July 21 and close on July 28, 2020.
He said political parties are encouraged to submit the list of their candidates on time as the portal would automatically close at 6.00 p.m on the last date for the submission of nominations.
He added that the commission would like to take this opportunity to again draw the attention of all political parties, candidates, aspirants and supporters on the need to obey all laws, regulations and guidelines especially in their campaigns, adding that equally important is the need for strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols to ensure their safety and well-being, as well as that of members of the public.
Speaking at YIAGA Africa town hall meeting hosted by Channels Television, Yakubu said INEC targets electronic voting in Anambra State and subsequent elections in the country.
However, he said this would be subject to an amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The INEC chairman added that Section 52 of the 2010 Electoral Act has to be amended to give the commission the constitutional powers to do electronic voting.
He also called for the setting up of the election offences commission to punish electoral offenders.
Yakubu said electoral reforms would ensure transparency in the system and reduce cost as well as punish electoral offences.
He said INEC had made 34 changes in the electoral reforms and 24 constitutional electoral reforms, urging that the amendments must commence now as timing is of the essence.
He decried what happened during the 2019 general election when the amendments did not come on time, urging the National Assembly to act.
In his comments, a former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said the hallmark of the reforms would be the amendment of Section 52 of the Electoral Act to make electronic voting legal.
According to the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, the town hall meeting was organised to urged the National Assembly to accelerate the consideration of the electoral amendment bills and ensure their quick passage before the end of 2020.
APC Reconciliation Committee
In the meantime, APC has asked Nnamani and Bello to wade into the crises in Edo and Ondo states and separate the warring members.
APC has been enmeshed in crises in almost one year in Edo and Ondo states, both of which are holding off-season elections in September and October respectively.
However, with last week’s dissolution of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and the replacement with the caretaker committee, chaired by Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the party launched the reconciliation bid to prevent the opposition from taking over the two states in the forthcoming governorship elections.
Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Yekini Nabena, in a statement yesterday, said the appointment of the reconciliation committees was in line with the process of reconciliation among leaders and members of the party at all levels.
Nabena said besides Nnamani, others on the Edo State Reconciliation Committee included Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo; Prof. Tahir Mamman, Senator Margaret Okadigbo, Mr. Sanusi Musa and Hon. Abdul-Rahman Sumaila as Secretary.
Those on Ondo State Reconciliation Committee are Senator Adamu Aliero, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, Mr. Gambon Magaji, Mr. Jasper Azuwatalum, Ms. Binta Muazu, Hon. Iquo Inyang and Mr. Shina Pellar as secretary.
Party Denies Any Zoning Arrangement ahead of Convention
The party has also denied zoning offices ahead of its planned national convention.
In a separate statement, Nabena called on party members, supporters, stakeholders and the general public to disregard the report.
According to him, “If and when a zoning arrangement is made for the planned national convention, it will be officially communicated and publicised.”
Nabena said the caretaker committee, at its inaugural meeting on Monday, did not discuss or issue the fake zoning arrangement for the planned national convention.