Political Parties in the country under the aegis of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), have thrown their weight behind the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the sequence for the 2019 general elections released by the commission recently.
The INEC will however, wait to see if the recent bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, which seeks to reorder the elections will be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari. If assented, the elections will now spread to three days instead of the original two days set by INEC. The bill proposed to have the Presidential election come last rather than coming first alongside that of National Assembly.
According to the INEC timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 elections, the presidential and National Assembly election will hold on the 16th February, 2019, while the governorship, state Assembly and the FCT council elections are scheduled for 2nd of March, 2019.
The parties gave this backing on Wednesday at the regular quarterly consultative meeting between the management of INEC and the political parties in Abuja. Chairman of all the registered political parties in the country, Mohammed Danlado, said the electoral body was right to scheduled the polls in line with the existing laws as all the necessary laws were yet to be amended.
He noted that the issue is a constitutional one and not until the law are amended, INEC order of election stands under the existing law, saying, “I think this is a constitutional issue and electoral matter. What INEC has done at the moment is based on what is in the provision of the constitution. If there is any law that supersedes what they have done, that law is not to be abandoned. So we stand on the same page. So we have to be working together, INEC, political parties and most important the stakeholders in the democratic development.”
He also solicited the support of INEC in curbing money bags in politics stressing that without support from the electoral body, the party instruments will be hijacked by moneybags.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu in his remarks earlier explained that the commission has fixed dates for future elections in the country even up till 2055. He said further that the initiative is to ensure stability and certainty in the country’s democratic process as obtained in the developed world like in United States where everybody knows the dates for presidential elections.
“On this principle, the dates for the 2019 elections as well as future elections are no longer a matter of speculation. In 2019, the dates are 16th February and 2nd March. In 2023, it is 18th February and 4th March; in 2027 20th February and 6th March; 2031, it is 15th February and 1st March and so on. “
He argued that the idea is to “engender certainty in our electoral calendar, allows for long term planning by the commission as well as stakeholders and brings our democracy in line with the best practice around the world. I am glad that this decision has received the overwhelming support of stakeholders.”
Yakubu also solicited support from the political parties to assist the commission expunging ineligible voters from the voter register especially the underage voters as recently recorded in Kano state local council elections.
“I wish to appeal to political parties to help the commission in further cleaning up the voter register. This appeal is all the more pertinent here because in addition to the display of the voter register in every polling unit nationwide before the 2011 and 2015 general elections for claims and objections, copies of the register were given to every political party at the time.
“In addition, the commission also availed each political party that fielded candidates in the five governorship elections conducted since the 2015 general elections a copy of the updated voter register for each state. However, as at today no political party has formally drawn the attention of the commission to the prevalence of ineligible persons based on their interrogation of the voter register,”he said.
Innocent Odoh, Abuja