Controversy as substitution of Presidential, National Assembly candidates ends

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu showing a specimen ballot paper for Ekiti governorship election during the INEC quarterly consultative meeting with political parties, in Abuja on Wednesday (4/6/18). 03573/4/6/2018/Hogan Bassey/NAN
FILE: Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu showing a specimen ballot paper for Ekiti governorship election during the INEC quarterly consultative meeting with political parties, in Abuja on Wednesday (4/6/18). 03573/4/6/2018/Hogan Bassey/NAN

As 2019 general election approaches, the deadline for the withdrawal or replacement of candidates for the presidential and National Assembly positions by parties elapses on Saturday, November 17.

According to the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the last day for the substitution is just a day before the campaigns, which officially start on November 18.

For the governorship candidates and state houses, the parties still have up till December 2 to withdraw or replace candidates.

The commission gave between August 18 to October 7 for the conduct of primaries and resolution of disputes from the primaries.

During this period, parties picked their presidential and National Assembly candidates. According to INEC, political parties fielded 79 presidential candidates, 1856 candidates for the Senate and 4496 candidates for the National Assembly.

Some of those who emerged as presidential candidates are: President Muhammadu Buhari, flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Oby Ezekwesili Allied Congress Party of Nigeria(ACPN); Tope Fasua of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP); Sowore African Action Congress (AAC) among many others.

However, on Thursday, Olusegun Mimiko of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) withdrew from the presidential race opting to go for the Senate contest, representing Ondo central.

The national chairman of the party, Dan Nwanyanwu, made the announcement at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday noting the party would approach INEC to withdraw Mr Mimiko’s name and file same for the Senate.

Different Strokes

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential candidacy is still dicey as one of its candidates, Jerry Gana, has taken the issue to court despite the fact that the party says it is handling the issue.

The party had zoned its presidential ticket to the North which the former minister was hoping to benefit from, but the primaries of the party produced former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke.

Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) also has issues surrounding its presidential candidate as Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim was reported to have won the party’s ticket at its national convention, and the presidential primary election held on the premises of Ibeto Hotel in Abuja with 593 delegates in attendance.

But the party’s national chairman, Emmanuel Dania, said Fela Durotoye was duly elected at the party’s presidential primary and he remains the only recognised candidate of the party.

This led to the withdrawal of Mr Olawepo-Hashim, from the race on the grounds of breach of the party’s constitutional procedures in the processes leading to the September 29 primary.

Mr Olawepo-Hashim is now the presidential candidate of the Peoples Trust (PT).

Ogun

For the National Assembly contest involving the APC in Ogun State, there is still the possibility surprises may spring up as the governor whose list was rejected has been making moves to salvage the matter including meeting with the president.

In Ogun State the governor, Ibikunle Amosun, produced a list of candidates which according to him were produced through consensus but INEC only confirmed the list of the party.

In the list by the governor, Mr Amosun was named the candidate for Ogun Central Senatorial District race, alongside six out of the nine candidates for the House of Representatives.

Apart from Mr Amosun, other adopted candidates for the Senate are Lekan Mustapha (Ogun East) and the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Tolu Odebiyi (Ogun West).

The six adopted candidates for the House of Representatives include the Speaker, State House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunbi (Egbado North/Ipokia); former Chairman of Ado-Odo/Ota, Rotimi Rahman (Ota); and the State Commissioner for Special Duties, Leke Adewolu (Ewekoro/Ifo).

Others are the Director General of Bureau of Lands, Biyi Ismail (Ijebu North/Ijebu North-East/Ogun -waterside); Biyi Otegbeye (Egbado South /Ipokia); and Mikail Kazeem (Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/ Odeda).

Zamfara, Kaduna

In the case of Zamfara, INEC disqualified the APC from fielding candidates for election into various positions because it failed to meet the deadline of conducting primaries. The party, however, countering INEC, said it will present candidates, condemning INEC’s position.

However, no list of names has come from Zamfara.

In Kaduna State, a crisis erupted concerning the candidate for Kaduna Central Senatorial District for which the party initially named incumbent, Shehu Sani as sole candidate. However, the panel sent to the state, conducted a primary which was boycotted by Mr Sani, and declared an aide to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Uba Sani, as winner.

This led to the defection of Mr Sani, who said his decision was because his name was unfairly substituted.

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Lois Ugbede is a junior politics reporter at PREMIUM TIMES. She currently covers some of the nation’s big political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission. Twitter: @ugbedelois


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