•Insists Anambra Central senatorial poll must hold
•Promises to register more parties
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released a schedule of activities and timetable for the 2019 general elections.
First out of the blocks would be party primaries for presidential and National Assembly elections, scheduled to hold between August and October this year.
Briefing newsmen at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, yesterday, INEC National Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, said collection of nominations forms by the aspirants of the political parties for national and state elections will be between August August 11 to 24, 2018.
“The sequence of polls begins with the presidential and National Assembly elections, followed by governorship, state Assembly and FCT Area Council elections. In the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), there are critical steps from the publication of notice of election to the conduct of the polls.
“These have been fixed by the commission as follows: Publication of notice of election; national and state elections–August 17, FCT Area Council election–September 3.
“Collection of nomination forms by political parties: National and state elections will be between August 11-24; FCT Area Council elections will hold on November 10. Conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from the primaries; national and state elections will be from August 18 to October 7; FCT Area Council elections is from September 4 to October 27.
“Commencement of campaign by the parties: Presidential and National Assembly is on November 18, governorship and state Assembly will start on December 1; FCT Area Council elections is on December 2, 2018. The last day for submission of nomination forms to INEC, for presidential and National Assembly is December 3, for governorship and atate Assembly is December 17 while FCT Area Council elections is on December 14.
“The last day for campaigns, for presidential and National Assembly elections is February 14, 2019, that of governorship, state Assembly and FCT Area Council elections is February 28, 2019,” the commission noted.
In his words of caution, Mahmood said: “For us to succeed, we need the support and cooperation of all stakeholders. I wish to seize this opportunity to remind the political parties, candidates and other stakeholders that election is a process governed by law. The commission expects full adherence to the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act, which form the bases of the detailed time table and schedule of activities.”
“The decision of the Commission to fix election dates is to engender certainty in our electoral calendar and to enable all stakeholders to prepare adequately for elections, as is the case in many mature and developing democracies.
“Already, the Commission has concluded its Strategic Plan and the Strategic Plan of Action for the current electoral cycle and beyond covering the period 2017-2021, as well as Election Project Plan.
“The Commission is moving away from the culture Of quick-fix, fire brigade approach to the management of elections in Nigeria. As our democracy matures, the planning and implementation of electoral activities should be predictable and systematic. This is all the more pertinent given the size and population of the country, the terrain, logistical requirements, the increasing number of political parties, security challenges and number of constituencies for which elections are to be held. For instance, in 2019, the Commission will conduct elections for 1,558 constituencies, made up of one presidential constituency, 29 govemorship constituencies out of 36 (seven govemorship elections are staggered and conducted off-cycle), 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies, 991 state Assembly constituencies, 6 Area ouncil chairmen as well as 62 councillorship positions for the FCT.”
Asked how much the general election will cost, he replied: “I want to inform you that we have not finished the logistics. By Thursday this week, we will be able to inform you after our meeting, the exact figure the conduct of elections will take.
Reacting to the confusion trailing the conduct of the Anambra Central Senatorial bye-election, Mahmood declared that the election will hold this Saturday, as directed by the Court of Appeal.
He also said the Commission will comply with the extant law as regards registration of new political parties.