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2019 General Elections: APC won't field any candidate in Zamfara, INEC insists

Cletus Idogo, Abuja.

The possibility of the All Progressive Congress (APC) fielding candidates in the forthcoming 2019 general elections in Zamfara state may have been sealed.

The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Monday said nothing has changed on the issue.

INEC had barred the Zamfara State chapter of the APC from fielding candidates to contest in the 2019 general elections after failing to conduct primary elections.

The commission had set October 7, 2018 deadline for parties to conclude their primary elections to elect candidates, but divisions within the state chapter of the APC prevented an INEC-supervised election from taking place for the governorship and legislative positions.

Consequently, in a letter signed by INEC’s acting secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, and addressed to APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, the party can no longer conduct any primary elections outside of the originally-stated window and will not be allowed to participate in the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara next year.

But the party would not want to hear any of this, vowing to participate in the election.

INEC boss however stuck to his gun, saying that the commission stands by its earlier statement on the issue.

Yakubu spoke Monday in Abuja at the end of the opening of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC) meeting in Abuja.

The INEC boss who was responding to questions from newsmen said the commission stands by its earlier statement.

He said, “We have issued a statement on Zamfara and nothing has changed. We stand by the statement that we issued.”

He also revealed that the October 18th date for the submission of list of candidates by all the political parties. There are 91 but only 89 notify the commission of their intension to conduct primaries.

On the submission date for list of candidates for the general elections, Yakubu said, ” I am sure we have made some progress, but the deadline as we say is on October 18.”

He ruled out any possibility of extension as he declared, “we will give a full report after the 18th October. No extension.”

On Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), Yakubu said that INEC has printing the PVCs of all those who registered in the second and third quarters of 2018.

He also revealed that the PVCs for those who registered in the first quarter of 2018 have been printed.

He said: ” We have printed the PVCs for those who registered in the first quarters of 2018. We are right now simultaneously printing for those who registered in the second and third quarters.

” We are looking at the end of November 2018 for all the PVCs to be printed including request for transfer and relocation.”

He also reiterated the commission’s assurance to ensure that all the outstanding PVCs are ready for collection before the 2019 general elections.

In his earlier remark at the opening of the ECONEC meeting, Yakubu said that two day meeting which kicked off yesterday is expected to validate the study carried out on the issue of cost of conducting elections.

The body has been disturbed by the ever rising cost of conducting elections and handling of pre and post election litigation. It was this concern that gave rise to the setting up of a study group among member countries.

He added that the study is part of ECONEC’s two-year Work Plan (2016-2018). 

The objective he said is for Election Management Bodies (EMBs) within the region to share experience, expertise and even pool resources not only with a view to ensuring best practice through peer review but also in order to reduce the cost of conducting elections among our member States.

“It is borne out of the serious concern by all Electoral Commissions in the sub-region about the spiraling cost of conducting elections. With every cycle, the cost of elections keeps rising, making many countries unable fund critical aspects of the electoral process as a sovereign responsibility.”

He also added that the “ ever rising cost of voter registration and the compilation of a credible voters’ register, recruitment and training of electoral officials, provision of electoral logistics, election security, civic and voter education, procurement of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, deployment of electoral technology, undertaking regular engagement with stakeholders and handling of pre-election and post-election litigations are enormous.

"The task of meeting such extensive expenditure has increasingly challenged the national resources of many countries in our region. It is against this background that Governing Board of ECONEC inaugurated this study to explore what we can do as Election Managers, working together with national stakeholders and development partners, to find ways to reduce the cost of elections without jettisoning new innovations or compromising the quality, transparency and credibility of elections. “

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