Political parties in Nigeria on Thursday resorted to last minute rush to beat the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) deadline for the submission of list of candidates for the 2019 general elections.
According to INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, only eight parties submitted their nominations for Presidential and National Assembly out of 89 political parties by Tuesday, 16 October. The others appeared to have settled to do so at the last minute.
INEC had scheduled the submission of candidates’ names for the Presidential and National Assembly between Oct. 10 and Oct. 18, and deadline for the Governorship and State Assemblies election on Nov. 2.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents who were at the venue of the exercise, International Conference Centre (ICC) Abuja, reported that many party leaders and representatives were just arriving at the venue at about 6:00 p.m.
Some of the party leaders and candidates who spoke with NAN, attributed the delay to the cumbersome process involved in the filling of the forms and large size of the country.
To fast track the submission process, INEC grouped the political parties into seven groups, comprising 13 parties each.
Some of the parties’ representatives came into the venue with some of their forms to obtain tally, while still sorting other forms elsewhere, to beat the deadline.
Some were seen using torch lights at the car park to sort their forms before submission.
The Presidential candidate and National Chairman of the National Conscience Party ( NCP), Dr Yunusa Tanko, commended INEC for the arrangement for collection.
Tanko, who was still waiting to submit with tally number 37, said that in the past, people needed to hang around INEC office for submission.
He said with the large space now provided, all they needed to do was to get a tally and sit in a hall till when the tally number would be called.
He said that the delay in submission was not the fault of INEC or that of the political parties, as they needed to get oath of office from the court for each form.
He said there was need to increase the number of days for submission since the number of political parties had increased to 91.
Eunice Atuejide, National Chairman, National Interest Party, also commended the process, saying INEC was not responsible for the rush.
Olusegun Mimiko, the Presidential Candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, who was at the venue with the party’s National Chairman, Dan Nwanyanwu, said that the party got tally 73 as at 5.30 p.m.
Mimiko said that the party was still within the time and urged INEC to be transparent in the 2019 general elections.
He said credible election is the hallmark of democracy.
Mimiko said he left Labour Party where he first obtained his Presidential nomination form because of legal battle in the party.
The National Chairman of the Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance, Mohammed Shittu, attributed the delay in submission to large size of country.
He added that the party also had to settle disputes that arose after the primaries before submission of names.
The National Chairman of the Young Progressives Party, Bishop Amakiri, who was still waiting to be called for submission of his party’s forms, said the delay was to make sure that everything was properly done to avoid unnecessary mistakes associated with rush.
He expressed the view that the time lag for submission should be extend by a month because of the number of registered political parties.
Amakiri said what was witnessed at the submission centre was a confirmation that INEC had expanded the scope.
He advised politicians to sustain the spirit of sportsmanship witnessed at the venue of submission before, during and after the 2019 general elections.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alfa Mohammed, said that the party was still waiting for submission with tally number 78.
Mohammed said that the delay was also due to the distance between the party’s headquarters and its state and local government offices across the country, while some of the conflict from primaries took time to be resolved.
The submission process was going on smoothly as at 8:00 p.m. with the premises still crowded with parties representatives