By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA– The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has announced the registration of the African Peoples Party APP bringing the number of registered political parties in the country to 46.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this Wednesday in Abuja after swearing in nine recently-cleared Resident Electoral Commissioners RECS.
“The Commission has, by order of court, yesterday issued Certificate of Registration to the African People’s Party APP which originally applied for registration as a political party three years ago in 2014. With this development, the number of political parties in Nigeria now stands at 46”, Yakubu stated.
Swearing in the commissioners, the INEC Chairman charged them to be frank and just in the discharge of their mandate.
Among those sworn in is Dr Asmau Sani Maikudi who came into prominence following the alleged refusal of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to issue her appointment letters.
Others are Sam Olumekun, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu, Barr. Kassim Geidam, Jibrin Zarewa, Abdulganiyu Raji, Prof. Sam Egwu, Barr. Mike Igini and Mallam Sadiq Musa.
While charging them to be non-partisan, Yakubu said; “As Resident Electoral Commissioners, you will be responsible for the implementation of the plan. In doing so, you will also exercise supervisory control over personnel, resources as well as legal and administrative processes in the States to which you are posted. You will also interact with various categories of stakeholders, including partisan actors. As election managers, you must maintain the required openness and consultation. At the same time, you must be very firm and courageous on the side of the law as well as our regulations and guidelines as required of you as unbiased umpire. Be fair to all, partisan to none.
“As I told the first set of new Resident Electoral Commissioners a few weeks ago, you can also be posted to any part of the country at anytime the exigencies of service require such deployment. For now, you will be posted to States within your geo-political zones but none of you will ever serve in his or her State of origin throughout your tenure”, he said.
Speaking further, Yakubu intimidated them of the immediate tasks ahead, urging them to hit the ground running.
He said; “Your work in INEC begins in earnest. Over the next few months, the Commission will be conducting four elections in quick succession. The Dukku North State Constituency by-election in Gombe State is holding this weekend to be followed by the Eti Osa I State Constituency in Lagos State and Kware/Wamakko Federal Constituency in Sokoto State. Already, the end of tenure Governorship election in Anambra State has been scheduled to hold on 18th November. I wish to put you on notice that some of you, especially the new appointees, will be deployed to these elections for immediate field orientation.
“As you are aware, the Commission has embarked upon the continuous voter registration exercise nationwide. For the first time in the history of the Commission, citizens who have attained the age of 18 years and those who could not register before the last General Election now have the opportunity to do so on a continuous basis as envisaged by the Electoral Act. The exercise is conducted at the Local Government level on quarterly basis. At the end of the first quarter of the exercise, some 1,810,153 citizens were registered. The exercise is now in the second week of the second quarter and already some 282,281 citizens have been registered, making a total of 2,092,434 new registrants so far.
“In Anambra State in particular, the registration has been devolved to Ward level in view of the forthcoming Governorship election consistent with the Commission’s practice. As part of the Commission’s continuing improvement of the electoral process, we have introduced a new innovation in voter registration in Anambra State which will in due course be extended nationwide using our newly acquired Direct Data Capturing Machines DDCMs. Data is now collected on Persons With Disabilities PWDs categorised by gender and type of disability. This will help us in planning access to polling units and such other support on election day as persons with special needs and advocates of more inclusiveness in our democracy have demanded of the Commission for sometime”.
Yakubu had only few weeks ago, sworn-in 14 Resident Electoral Commissioners, bringing the total to 23. Out of the new nine commissioners sworn in, five have been reappointed for a second and final term while the remaining four are new appointments.