The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has failed to include candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for Rivers and Zamfara states in its final list of candidates for the Presidential and National Assembly elections billed for February 16 this year. Also missing in the list released on Thursday and signed by the INEC Secretary, Rose Orianran-Anthony, were the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party SDP. There has been a legal tussle between Dr Donald Duke and Prof. Jerry Gana over the SDP presidential ticket, and INEC said it could not publish the particulars of either of the contenders as the party has not forwarded it any name following a court order. The Federal High Court had barred the APC from fielding candidates in Rivers and Zamfara following the inability of the Party to resolve its internal challenges and respect its own rules on the conduct of its primaries. INEC also disclosed that it will also publish the final list of candidates for the governorship and State Assembly elections on Thursday, 31st January for the March 2nd election. This is coming even as the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that the Commission would require the services of over 10,000 ad-hoc staff to support its staff during the election period. Professo Yakubur, who disclosed this when he met a Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian universities in Abuja, asked the Vice Chancellors to forward to the commission, names of its required lecturers who would work at the various collation centers, as well as returning officers.
He however pleaded with the Vice Chancellors not to give the commission lecturers who are politically exposed.
“As in previous elections, we have requested each University for a specified number of academic staff as contained in my letter to the Vice Chancellors. Staff who are card carrying members or have participated in partisan politics should not be nominated. Similarly, those who may not be involved in partisan political activities but are known to have obvious political leanings should not be nominated. The Commission will carefully scrutinise the list which must be submitted confidentially in the manner prescribed by Commission in my letter to the Vice Chancellors”, he said.
Yakubu extolled the contributions of staff of Nigerian universities in the conduct of elections in the country, saying, “without the involvement of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, especially the Universities, the Commission will find it extremely difficult to conduct credible elections.
“At the polling unit level, the critical segment of election duty staff is drawn from products of our Universities and polytechnics involved in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. For the various collation and declaration centres, the Commission draws the required Collation and Returning Officers from the academic staff of our Universities, including the Vice Chancellors who serve as Returning Officers for Governorship elections and Collation Officers for the Presidential elections. It has been a happy collaboration which has further enhanced the transparency and credibility of the elections in Nigeria as well as public confidence in the process. The Commission wishes to sustain and deepen this collaboration.
“It is less than a month to the 2019 General Elections. On Saturday 16th February 2019, elections will hold in 470 constituencies nationwide made up of the Presidential, 190 Senatorial and 360 Federal Constituencies. Two weeks later on Saturday 2nd March 2019, elections will hold in 1,088 constituencies made up of 29 Governorship elections, 991 State Constituencies and 68 Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory. In summary, there are 1,553 Constituencies for which elections will held this year.
“The 2019 General Elections will involve the highest number of registered voters and a record number of political parties. The final register of voters now stands at 84.004,084 while 91 political parties are contesting in different Constituencies nationwide. A total of 73 candidates are contesting in the Presidential election, 1,904 in the Senatorial and 4,680 in the Federal (House of Representatives) elections, making a total of 6,657 candidates contesting for 470 seats.
“The final list of candidates for governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections will be released in two weeks on Thursday 31st January 2019 in accordance with the Commission’s timetable and schedule of activities.
“Collation of results will take place in 8,809 Registration Areas or Wards, 774 Local Government Areas and 36 States and the FCT. In addition, we require Returning Officers for the elections. For the 2019 General Elections, the Commission would require some 10,603 staff to support the various collation and declaration processes. It is for this reason that this meeting is of crucial importance. We need the support of our universities to source the requisite number of interested academic staff on the understanding that this is essentially a national service”, he added.