Candidates vying for governorship and legislative positions in the 2019 general election will today commence political fireworks, as gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly campaigns officially begin today.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that campaigns for the presidential and National Assembly elections started 13 days ago, precisely on November 18, 2018.
With the lifting of the ban on governorship and the State House of Assembly campaigns by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today, full-blown politicking is expected to kick off at the state level for the general polls.
The electoral umpire, INEC, yesterday cautioned political parties against hate speech, saying as the campaigns for the governorship and the State Assembly elections begin today, December 1, 2018, its wish is for the campaigns to be issue-based.
Speaking yesterday at a two-day capacity building training organised for INEC press corps, chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said political parties that fail to respect the democratic process lose the moral right to complain about secondary elections.
Yakubu noted that INEC is one of the most improved public service organisations in Nigeria, just as he observed that the trajectory since 2010 shows continuous improvement in service delivery.
He however warned political parties not to draw the commission back while carrying out their activities.
On how INEC will monitor the political campaigns, Yakubu said, “I am proud to say that as a result of our robust and continuous engagement with the media and other stakeholders in the democratic process, INEC is today one of the most improved public service organisations in Nigeria.
“We can say that the 2019 general election is truly around the corner. Let me once again seize this opportunity to reassure the country that INEC is ready and committed to free, fair and credible elections”.
Meanwhile, our correspondents who monitored the mood in some states said the stage is set as INEC lifts the ban on electioneering for both governorship and State House of Assembly polls.
In Sokoto State, no fewer than 48 candidates from different political parties seeking to occupy the Government House will be slugging it out with the incumbent governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who is the PDP flag-bearer.
It is simply a race between PDP and the APC, whose candidate is the immediate past deputy governor, Ahmed Aliyu.
In Jigawa State, incumbency, President Buhari’s popularity and former Governor Sule Lamido’s political structure are the major factors expected to shape the gubernatorial and State Assembly campaigns as well as the outcome of the elections.
The incumbent governor, Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, who is seeking reelection is poised to rely on projects and programmes he executed in the last three and half years as bases for his campaign.
All the APC candidates will rely heavily on Governor Badaru and President Buhari’s popularity for their campaigns.
On the other hand, the PDP candidates are expected to depend on the popularity of former Governor Sule Lamido and his achievements.
In Kano State, our correspondent who went round some party offices reports that party executives were fully on ground planning how to reach out to their supporters in all the 44 local government areas of the state.
In Katsina, the home state of President Buhari, tension heightened yesterday as the ruling APC and the opposition parties contending for the governorship and the State Assembly seats oiled their machinery for campaigns in the state.
…INEC Tackles 698 Pre-election Cases In Court
Meanwhile, ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is grappling with 698 pre-election cases in court, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered.
Because all the litigations arose from the primary elections conducted by various political parties, INEC is joined as defendants in some of the suits.
Out of the 698 litigations, INEC is joined in 396 cases pending in various courts across the country arising from the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties.
Also, the commission has similarly received 302 requests for Certified True Copies (CTC), documents containing the monitored reports of party primaries and copies of personal particulars of candidates.
LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that these requests are obviously a prelude to more court actions, raising the total number of pre-election litigations the commission has to grapple with from the primary elections to 698.
Acknowledging the huge burden the court cases has brought on the commission ahead of the general elections, coupled with the fact that 52 petitions and protests letters have been sent to them from aggrieved party aspirants, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said INEC is capable of defending themselves.
Speaking at a two-day capacity building for INEC press corps, a training sponsored by European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the European Union (EU), Yakubu said the challenges on the litigations are, adding that the commission is up to the task.
He stated: “The implication of these challenges is that as we prepare for the general elections, we are also going to grapple with pre-election litigations.
“Unfortunately, we have also witnessed some of the most acrimonious party primaries in our recent history. Internal party democracy is still a source of concern to our electoral progress,” Yakubu added, referring to the the process that led to the commission being joined in the 698 litigations.
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