INEC Tasks Parties To Elect Candidates For 2023 Polls

 . ACF Ridicules The South East And South-South Desire To Produce Next Nigerian President

By Suleiman Umaru

 Barely thirteen months to the 2023, general elections, Festus Okoye, an Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, Commissioner, overseeing, Information and Voters Education Committee, at the instance of Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and the Commission Chairman, had read the riot to the political parties to hasten up in electing their Candidates in their various congresses  at the Federal and state levels for the 2023, general elections.

Okoye , who has the mandate of the INEC boss, had told the Leadership  of the political parties jostling to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari after the 2023, polls  that they have less than one month  ‘’to conduct  their primaries  and present their Candidates to the Commission   for the 2023 general elections’’.

 The INEC National Commissioner noted that they had expected the parties ‘’to follow the timetable and schedule of activities’’ that had earlier been released by the Commission ahead of the 2023, general elections. According to him the parties ought to have conducted their primaries to elect their Candidates at the Federal level for the polls from April 4th, 2022 that should   terminate on Friday, June 3, 2022.

Prior to the matching order given to the parties to speedily conduct their primaries and forward the names of their elected Candidates to the Commission for the 2023 polls, it was said to have earlier served notices to them indicating ‘’the dates for conventions, congresses, and primaries for the purpose of nominating candidates for the various elective offices’’.

 Okoye, the INEC Chairman, Information and Voters Education, who could not hide his feelings maintains that the the parties ought to have started the nominations of their Presidential and National Assembly Candidates for the elections that will be submitted to the Commission on June 17, 2022 while that of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly should  concluded between July 1st, and July 15, 2022.

While the INEC, officials are insisting that the parties must cue into the 2023, election timetable and schedule, that had been released  as the gold post may not be shifted, more Presidential Candidates are still declaring for the 2023 polls on ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC which many believe may delay the party primaries.

The latest declarants were Godswll Akapbio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom state and minister of Niger Delta, Ibikunle Amosun, a former governor of Ogun, former President Olusegun Obasanjo home state., Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state and Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Adam Oshiomhole, former National Chairman of the APC, and Mohammed Badru, governor of jiawa state.

 while the ranks of the APC, Presidential aspirants are swelling on a daily basis, some of the 30 declarants or thereabout may still dillydallying in paying the N100 million fee to buy the Expression of Interest and nomination forms pegged at N50million each in order to participate in the party upcoming screening exercise that would qualify the aspirant to partake in the party primaries to elect the Presidential Candidate that would compete with other Candidates from other parties for the 2023 polls.

Tinubu: Picks APC Presidential Forms For The 2023 Polls

 At present 13 of the APC Presidential aspirants were aid to have paid the N100 million to buy the forms. They are  Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and National Leader of the party, Bello Yahaya, governor of Kogi state including Dave Umahi, governor of Eboyi state, who had described the Katsina state born Nigerian President  as ‘’the best’’ that Nigeria had produced since the return of democracy in 199, Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President,  Senator Rochas Okorocha  a former governor of Imo state, and Rotomi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state  and now minister of Transportation.

Others who were said to  have also paid the mandatory N100 million fee to qualify to contest in the party pimaries for the 2023, elections on the ticket of the ruling APC, were Emeka Nwajuiba, minister of state, Education,  Tunde Bakare, General Overseer ,Later Day Rain,  governor Badru,  Akpabio, Ms Unu Onaneye, a female Presidential  aspirant and  one Nicholas Felix.   

 Oshiomhole, Fayemi,  Amosun,   Chris Ngige, former governor of Anambra state and minister of Labour and Employment, Dimeji Bankole, a one-time Speaker , House of Representatives Ken Nnamani, a former Senate President, Yakubu Mohammed and several others may still be making Consultations to the N100 million fee to participate in the APC planned primaries.

As at Friday, May 6, 2022, being the deadline set by the party National Working Committee, NWC, for aspirants to pay the N100 million fee to pick the Presidential forms, it could not be ascertained how many of the remaining aspirants had met the deadline or whether the date was extended to accommodate those who could not make payment early to do so. There are indication more of the Presidential aspirants have aleady paid the N100 million to beat the party deadline.

Emefiele: CBN Governor And APC Presidential Aspirant

The APC Presidential aspirant whose N100 million payment may have surprised many was that of Goddwin Emiefele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, which many believe that he has compromised his position to dabble into the murky waters of Nigeria politics or that the APC has a hidden agenda to truncate the country’s democracy by dragging Dick and Harry into the Presidential race while they plot their next line of action on how to retain power in 2023.

 . The question on the lips of most people was: when did CBN governor become a politician and a card carrying member of the APC, as he was said to have been appointed to be the position from the Zenith Bank, where he was the Managing Director during the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, meaning that he was not a politician but a banker.

  His romance with the APC, may have started as a rumour, until it finally culminated in picking the party Presidential forms , without having a political base.He believes ‘‘everything is in the hand of God’’. Many believe that he may have been dragged into the Presidential race as a plot by the power brokers to remove him from office.

While Senator Abdullahi Adamu- led APC, NWC, are yet to fully commence the screening of its Presidential aspirants for the 2023, general  elections, the Opposition People’s Democratic Party,PDP, and some other parties, have already commenced the process for the election of their Candidates.

Perhaps, to ensure fidelity to the 1999  Constitution as amended, the 2022 Electoral Act and the timelines, for all the activities  for the 203, general elections,  INEC, National Commissioner, Information and Voters Education had said that  ‘’they will continue  to work  with the political parties’’ as the gold post may not be shifted.

In spite of the fact that none of the INEC registered political parties jostling to take over the reins of governance in 2023, particular, the PDP and APC, have presented the names of their Presidential Candidates to the electoral umpire, the Arewa Consultative Forum,  ACF,may have sent a message to the southern politicians, particular, the south east, who use ‘’threats and intimidation  to demand  the zoning  of the Presidency  to their region’’ to do a rethink.

Murtala Aliyu, the Secretary General of the ACF,had told Nigerians that such use of ‘’force by the southern politicians cannot transmit power to the region without negotiation’’.  He averred that the north is not against or opposed   ‘to the election of any Candidate from any part of the country as President, but ‘’it should be done in line with the Law and democratic principle’’.

Given the tension in the country, the ACF, secretary General, had said that ‘’the north does not seek to dominate any part of the country but will not submit itself to be relegated to serfdom’’.  He may have hit the nail on the head when he said that power may still be retained in the north as the region have not completed 12 years of ruling  the country, to the south 12 years.

Beating the drum of war, he may have told the southern Nigerian Politicians warning against the election of any northerner as President in 2023, that ‘’nobody has the monopoly of such threats and ultimatum’’. Aliyu, the ACF, Secretary General, who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’it is this long-running political riddle that has continued to frustrate all efforts at achieving justice, equity and fair-play in the country over the years.

He may have sent a message to the southern politicians that it would be very difficult for any Presidential Candidate from the two regions in the south jostling to win election in the 2023 general elections that it may not be possible without support from the north.  He has his reason. The north controls over 55% of the population of Nigeria.

 He may have made the south east and south-south Presidential aspirants in APC and PDP to understand that the voting strength of the north western states of Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa and Kano, alone,  is more than the two regions  comprising of eleven states, put together.

It is not surprising why the likes of Senator Okorocha, Umahi,  Ngige,  from the ibo estraction  and their south-south counterparts, Amaechi and , Oshiomhole  and Akpabio,   who are Presidential Candidates on the ticket of the APC jostling to take over from Buhari  after 2023 may have to watch their step.

 The situation may not different in the Opposition PDP where Ayim Pius Ayim, a former secretary to the government of the Federation, Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state, believed to be the best Candidate that should rule the country in this trying time to be able  fix  back the economy who are from the south east may have to work hard to convince the norther delegates during the party primaries to vote for them.

 The same applies to governors Emmauel Udom, governor of Akwa  Ibom state, and Nyensom Wike, of Rivers state, south -south Nigeria as the north may use their acclaimed voting strength to their advantage to  determine  who becomes the next President of Nigeria in 2023, irrespective of the political party.    

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