…as INEC rules out Lawan, Akpabio
By Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
Following its inability to resolve several internal crises among its members, All Progressives Congress, APC, may not field candidates for 25 National Assembly, NASS, seats, Sunday Vanguard learned.
At the end of the deadline for submission of candidates for NASS seats on June 17, APC was said to have been unable to upload some of its candidates.
Prominent among the vacant seats are Yobe North and Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial Districts where the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and immediate past Minister of Niger Delta, Sen Godswill Akpabion hail from.
A party source, who is angry at the development, lamented said APC leaders are nowhere to be found at a critical time such as this.
He said: “Our National Chairman is out of the country. Some said he went to China while others said he went to Germany. Our National Secretary, understandably, is very busy in his home state, Osun, ahead of the governorship election. Some members of the National Working Committee,NWC, are also either out of Abuja or even out of the country.
“The situation is such that even staff salaries at the party headquarters were only paid recently.
“As things stand, we don’t have candidates for 25 National Assembly seats because we did not upload candidates.”
Sunday Vanguard gathered that APC has been trying to use back channels to get the Independent National Electoral Commission ,INEC, to do its bidding by allowing it to upload candidates for the affected seats.
However, it was gathered that INEC insisted that it could not bend the rule for the ruling party.
The online submission of nomination forms EC9A, 9B, 9C, 9D and 9E for national elections – presidential and national assembly started on June 10 and ended on June 17.
Also, the dates for the submission of nomination forms for state elections – governorship and state assembly are between July 1 and July 15.
When contacted, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka declined comments.
However, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told Sunday Vanguard that “some political parties uploaded half the number (of candidates) depending on their relative strength and electoral preferences”.
Okoye was not specific about the APC.
He said: “We have 109 Senatorial Seats and 360 House of Representatives seats. We have presidential and vice presidential nominations. Ordinarily, each registered political party is supposed to upload the personal particulars of 471 candidates.
“Some political parties uploaded half the number depending on their relative strength and electoral preferences. The personal particulars of the validly nominated candidates have been published in the various constituencies.
“There is no law that mandates political parties to nominate 471 candidates. I can confirm that majority of the political parties did not meet up with the 471 threshold”.
Meanwhile, INEC has stated that its decision regarding the non publication of candidates for the Yobe North Senatorial District and Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District remained sacrosanct as it cannot reverse itself again.
Advising aggrieved political parties to approach the Federal High Court for remedial measures, INEC said it has now become “functus officio” in the matter.
Specifically, APC has been making a lot of allegations regarding its primary elections in the two districts.
The party had accused the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner REC in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, of working against its interests.
For the two districts, Senate President Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North) and Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom Northwest) did not participate in the senatorial primary elections monitored by INEC as they had their sights on the presidential convention of their party in which they were both contestants.
The APC convention was held days after the party had concluded its senatorial primary elections in accordance with its timetable.
While Bashir Machina won in Yobe North, a retired Deputy Inspector General ,DIG, of Police, Udom Ekpoudum, won the ticket for the Akwa Ibom Northwest.
APC refused to upload their details into INEC’s candidates’ nomination portal but instead wrote the commission that Lawan and Akpabio won their ticket in both constituencies.
Okoye in a statement issued Saturday in Abuja said allegations intended to impugn the integrity of the Commission have been made in respect of the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts.
To set the records straight, Okoye said the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandates the Commission to monitor the organisation and operation of political parties, including their finances, conventions, congresses and party primaries.
“In line with its constitutional and legal obligations, the Commission deployed monitors to the various constituencies and received reports of such exercise.
“In relation to the primaries for the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts, the Commission stands by the monitoring reports received from our State offices.
“ For this reason, the Commission did not publish the personal particulars of any candidate for the two constituencies at variance with the state reports,” he stated.