Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally confirmed the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bello Mohammed Matawalle, as the elected governor of Zamfara State, promising to issue a certificate of return to him, senators and House of Representatives-elect on Monday.
Commission chairman Mahmood Yakubu, who made the announcement during a media briefing in Abuja, said that the PDP won the governorship, three senatorial, seven House of Representatives and 24 State House of Assembly seats, disclosing that the elected State Assembly members will be issued certificate of return in the state on Friday, May 30, 2019.
While disclosing that Kabiru Hashimu of National Rescue Movement (NRM) party won Maru South State Assembly seat, the electoral umpire boss urged the political parties and politicians to learn from the hard lessons thought the APC by the Supreme Court on the importance of conducting credible primaries.
“The reason for addressing you is to provide an update on the recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding the candidates fielded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections. It is important to provide a background to the legal process that culminated in the Supreme Court decision on May 24, 2019.
“You may all recall that the Commission issued the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 general elections on January 9, 2018, over one year in advance. Among other activities, the conduct of party primaries was scheduled to take place between August 18, and October 7, 2018. Unfortunately, the APC did not conduct its primaries in Zamfara State within this stipulated time and the Commission duly informed the party that it would not be in a position to present candidates for elections in the State.
“Subsequently, various interested parties, including the APC itself, approached the court over the decision of the Commission. Just before the election, the subsisting court judgment at the time ordered the Commission to include the APC on the ballot for the Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections, which the Commission complied with.
“However, since the elections were completed, a Court of Appeal judgment and now a Supreme Court judgment have determined that the APC did not conduct valid primaries for the elections in question.
“In its judgment delivered on May 24, 2019, the Supreme Court, having determined that the APC did not conduct valid primaries, said that the votes cast for the party in all the elections in question were “wasted” and ordered the Commission to recognize the runners-up as the winners. This judgment affects the positions of Governor and Deputy-Governor, three Senatorial, seven Federal and twenty-four State Assembly Constituencies.
“Following the judgment of the Supreme Court, the Commission has met in two emergency sessions and taken briefings from our lawyers and staff on the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment.
“While the legislative elections (Senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly elections) are straight forward to deal with because they entail first-past-the-post or simple majority of votes, the Governorship election is determined not just by majority votes but also spread in accordance with Section 179 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“This means that we had to first discount the votes cast for the APC at the elections and then carefully rework the spread by Local Government Areas based on the new valid votes. In compliance with the Supreme Court judgment, the Commission has now determined the winners of the elections in Zamfara State.
“Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle, and Deputy Mahdi Aliyu Gusau of the PDP have been declared winners. Ya’u Sahabi, of Zamfara North, Mohammed Hassan of Zamfara Central and Lawali Hassan Anka won the three senatorial seats in the state.
Speaking further, Yakubu announced that: “the Commission will issue Certificates of Return to the new winners as follows: Governor and Deputy Governor-elect, Senators-elect and Members of the House of Representatives-elect will receive their certificates on Monday May 27, 2019 at the Commission’s Electoral Institute.
“Members of the State House of Assembly-elect will receive their certificates from the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Zamfara State at the INEC State Office in Gusau on Friday May 31, 2019 at 10.00am,” he noted.
Handing warning to the political parties ahead of the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi states governorship elections, he said: “I wish to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of all stakeholders, but particularly the political parties, to the implications of the Supreme Court judgment on the Zamfara matter. It is clear that properly conducted party primaries are cardinal to the proper internal functioning of political parties, the electoral process and our democratic system at large.
“Therefore, political parties must take very seriously the conduct of primaries according to all extant rules, including the monitoring of the processes by INEC to avoid a repeat of the Zamfara experience. I want therefore to remind us that the Commission has since 9thApril 2019 issued the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections by which party primaries are scheduled to hold between August 2 to 29, 2019. I appeal to political parties intending to field candidates in the elections to adhere strictly to this and other timelines in the Timetable and Schedule of activities,” he warned.