.To go Ahead with Anambra Central Elections Jan. 13
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has issued the time table and schedule of activities for the 2019 General Elections, fixing the conduct of party primaries including the resolution of disputes arising from primaries for August 18, 2018 to October 7, 2018 for national and state elections while that of the FCT Area Council is slated for between September 4 and October 27, 2018.
Speaking with journalists Tuesday in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission arrived at the schedule of activities after its meeting held on the same day.
INEC equally said it would go ahead with its earlier plan to conduct the Anambra Central election on January 13.
“We are going by the orders of the Court of Appeal that INEC should conduct a fresh election withing 90 days and the position of the court has not changed. So, there will be elections in Anambra Central on January 13, 2018”, Yakubu stated.
According to him, the Publication of Notice of Election for National and State Elections would be on August 17, 2018 while that of the FCT Area Council Elections would be done on September 3, 2018.
Collection of nomination forms by political parties for national and state elections begins from August 11 to 24 while that of the FCT Area Council elections would be between November 3 and 10, 2018.
Commencement of campaign by political parties would be November 18 for. Presidential and National Assembly Elections; December 1 for Governorship and State Assembly elections and December 2 for the FCT Area Council elections.
The last day for the submission of nomination forms to INEC is December 3, 2018 for Presidential and National Assembly Elections; December 17 for Governorship and State Assembly and December 14, 2018 for the FCT Area Council Elections.
INEC equally fixed the last day for campaigns for February 14, 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly Elections as well as February 28, 2018 for Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council Elections.
“Today, it is exactly 402 days to the opening of polling units nationwide at 8am on Saturday 16th February 2019. As political parties and candidates canvass the support of the electorate, the Commission wishes to appeal to all and sundry to eschew bitterness and conduct their activities with decorum. The 2015 General Election was a watershed in the history of our democracy. The Commission is determined to build on this legacy by ensuring that our elections keep getting better”, Yakubu pledged.
INEC had on March 9, 2017, announced the dates for the 2019 General Elections.
“In a clear departure from past practice when dates were announced close to elections, the Commission decided that henceforth our Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on the 3rd Saturday Of the month of February of each election year, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold two weeks later. When the end of tenure of the FCT Area Councils coincide with the general election, the FCT Council electionS are to be combined with the Governorship and State Assembly elections. By these decisions, the Commission fixed Saturday 16th February 2019 as the date for Presidential and National Assembly elections while Govemorship and State Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 2nd March 2019. Since the end of tenure of FCT Chairmen and Councillors will end in 2019, the Area Council elections will also hold on Saturday 2nld March 2019. Consequently, while other Nigerians elect their Governors and Members of State Assemblies, citizens in the FCT will elect Chairmen and Councillors for the Area Councils”, the INEC boss recalled.
According to him, the decision of the Commission to fix election dates is to engender certainty in the nation’s 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, tire 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 (7 Govemorship elections are staggered and conducted off-cycle), 109 Senatorial Districts, 360 Federal Constituencies, 991 State Assembly Constituencies, 6 Area Council Chairmen as well as 62 Councillorship positions for the FCT”, Yakubu added.
He said INEC will today also issue certificates of registration to 21 new political parties who were registered last month.