Political campaigns for the 2019 general election will formally kick off today, commencing with the publication of notice of polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Also, primary elections to field party candidates for the general polls will commences on August 18 and end October 7, 2018. This is even as the National Assembly joint committee on INEC yesterday summoned chairman of the electoral body, Professor Mahmood Yakubu to appear before it to make further clarification on the N189billion budgetary approval the commission is seeking for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. INEC yesterday presented certificate of registration to 23 new political parties that were registered on Tuesday.
INEC chairman, Yakubu, while presenting the certificates of registration to the newly registered political parties, said out of 144 associations that applied for registration, only 23 met all the requirements.
Yakubu said even though 23 newly registered parties now have equal opportunity with other political parties, they cannot present candidates for the forthcoming Osun State governorship election. “You are now members of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC). Everything that is due for other political parties is also due for you”, he said. The INEC chairman, who urged the ne parties to obey the Electoral Act, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that of their political parties, added that political platforms must ensure peaceful primary elections ahead of the 2019 general election. “Formal commencement of political campaigns for the 2019 general elections begin tomorrow (today) with the publication of Notice For Poll. INEC will work closely with the political parties to ensure transparent primary elections,” Yakubu said.
Speaking on the alarming rate of vote buying during elections, Yakubu disclosed that starting with the Osun State governorship election, INEC will change the features at the polling units to discourage the trend. “We have also contacted the security agencies to help us on this,” he said, even as he explained measures they have put in place to curb vote buying.
On his part, IPAC chairman, Mohammed Nalado, said political parties must respect law and order. He thanked INEC for registering more political parties, which he said has open more space for the electorate to choose who should represent them. While welcoming the new political parties into IPAC, Nalado said they are free to contest the forthcoming IPAC executive election.
The newly registered political parties are Advanced Alliance Party (AAP); Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP); African Action Congress (AAC); Alliance for a United Nigeria (AUN); Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD); Alliance National Party (ANP); Allied People’s Movement (APM); Alternative Party of Nigeria (APN) ; Change Nigeria Party (CNP); Congress Of Patriots (COP); Liberation Movement (LM) and Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD).
Others are Nigeria Community Movement Party (NCMP); Nigeria for Democracy (NFD); Peoples Coalition Party (PCP); Reform and Advancement Party (RAP); Save Nigeria Congress (SNC); United Patriots (UP); United Peoples Congress (UPC); We The People Nigeria (WTPN); YES Electorates Solidarity (YES); Youth Party (YP) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Meanwhile, the National Assembly joint committee on INEC yesterday summoned the commission’s chairman, Yakubu, to appear before to make further clarification over N189billion budgetary approval INEC is seeking for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. The committee members failed to agree on whether to adopt the N189 billion INEC is requesting as against N143 billion President Muhammadu Buhari requested the National Assembly to approve for it this year. For a way out of the stalemate, the committee consequently asked Yakubu to appear before it today to clarify why the amount he is requesting is different from that forwarded by President Buhari for the National Assembly to approve for the same exercise.
The INEC boss had at separate interfaces with Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Wednesday told the lawmakers that the entire N189billion budgeted for the conduct of the elections should be appropriated for at once as against two -fold approval request made by President Muhammadu Buhari in a virement-seeking letter forwarded to NASS last month.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter seeking for virement of N242 billion for the conduct of the elections, requested the National Assembly to appropriate N143bn for INEC this year.
The president in the letter read at both chambers of the National Assembly on the 17th of last month explained further that additional N45billion out of the INEC’s component of the N242billion would be provided for in the 2019 budget estimates. But in his submission before the Senate Committee on INEC on Wednesday, Yakubu said the total sum of N189billion proposed by the commission for conduct of the elections should be appropriated for at once.
In his submission he said, while the President in the said letter broke INEC’s budgetary proposal for the 2019 elections into two by requesting for N143billion appropriation for it this year and additional N45billion for it next year, INEC, in order to be on sound financial footing for the elections, wants the entire N189billion to be appropriated for this year.
But the disparity led to stalemate when the committees at joint sitting wanted to approve the budget estimates, as some of the members argued that approval should be solely based on request made by the resident while some others, argued for N189billion approval INEC sought for. Specifically, two members of the committee, Senators Mohammed Hassan (PDP Yobe South) and Ovie Omo- Agege (APC Delta Central) shouted at each other over which of the proposals to be approved. While Mohammed Hassan urged the committee to limit approval of the budgetary request to N143billion stated in the president’s letter for this year, Omo- Agege insisted that the entire N189billion INEC budget should be approved once and for all.
Efforts made by members of the joint committee to arrive at which of the proposals to approve during a closed door session which lasted for an hour failed, as they resolved to summon the INEC boss for more clarifications on N189billion budget proposal.
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