2019: INEC to partner political parties for credible elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will partnership political parties and other stakeholders in Ebonyi to ensure that the state records credible election in 2019.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof. Godswill Obioma, stated this while briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Abakaliki on the outcome of a meeting between the commission and Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC).
He said that the collaboration would raise the capacity and awareness of political parties’ members, equip them with knowledge of the electoral process.
Obioma said that the synergy would also enhance understanding of provisions of the nation’s Constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.
“Our focus, our commitment is on 2019 general elections and the desire to get things done right before and during the elections.
“This is a special IPAC meeting and the aim is to achieve two results,” he said.
According to him, it is to raise capacity ahead of 2019 in terms of equipping members with knowledge of IPAC and the electoral umpire with provisions of the Electoral Act.
Obioma said that it was also to sensitize political parties on the need to adhere to provisions of the Act.
“The meeting also highlighted the legal implications of violating the provisions of the Electoral Law and the need for political parties to conduct their activities within the ambits of the law.
“It is through a strategic partnership with the political parties and key stakeholders that our aim of having credible 2019 elections in the state can be achieved,” Obioma said.
He said that IPAC was set up within the structures of INEC to ensure inclusiveness in policy, transparency and probity in election process.
He pointed out that regular meetings were held to address issues that would benefit the members and electorate.
“IPAC is composed of all the registered political parties and meets with INEC from time to time.
“We chart a way forward, look at challenges, create strategies to combat the challenges and of course, make strategic plans in terms of sensitisation and other issues.
“As I have pointed out earlier, today’s meeting is a special one which was convened to address a particular issue.
“The issue is the provision of 2010 Electoral Law (As amended) with particular reference to section 92 (A) and (B) which deals with campaigns.
“The essence is to alert political parties of the provisions of that Act stipulating the guidelines, time limit, when to start campaigns and when to stop.
“They will know what constitutes a campaign and implications of contravening the provisions of the electoral Act,” the REC said.
He disclosed that the meeting deliberated on the need for violence-free polls in the state, saying that election was not a do-or-die affair.
He said that political parties were reminded to caution members, candidates and their supporters to limit their actions within the provisions of the law and avoid acts that could trigger election violence.
“Election is not a do-or-die affair and we were able to highlight the issue in the meeting and this is why we are calling for the strategic partnership to help build and cement our relationship with political parties.
“We encourage political parties and players to abide by the provisions of the Act to abide by guidelines and also to do all it takes to ensure that elections are credible, fair and free, and that people’s votes count,” Obioma added.
He said that INEC remained an unbiased electoral umpire committed to the discharge of its statutory mandate of conducting impartial and credible elections.
“We in INEC want to assure the public that we are unbiased umpires; we shall do our job, we will carry out our work taking into account our statutory responsibility as provided for in the Act.
“We will not add a vote that doesn’t count nor are we going to subtract a vote that counts.
“We are appealing for cooperation so that at the end of the day, everybody would have seen that we have done the job, people will have been happy to see that their votes have counted.”
Earlier in a paper presentation, Mrs Tonia Ndu, Head of Legal Unit of INEC in the state, urged political parties to desist from embarking on early campaigns.
She advised the parties and candidates to adhere strictly to provisions of the Electoral Laws and comply with INEC’s guidelines in carrying out political activities, especially campaigns.
Ndu said that political campaigns should only begin upon release of timeline for political activities by INEC, adding that it would constitute an electoral offence to indulge in political activities outside INEC’s approved timetable.
“Political parties must commence political campaigns upon INEC release of timeline, which must be 90 days to the election and must end 24 hours to the poll.
“Any political party found engaging in political campaigns when INEC has not released time-table for political activities, on conviction, is liable to a fine of N500, 000.
“INEC frowns at politicians and political parties kick-starting political campaigns when it has not given such approval,” Ndu said.
On his part, Chairman of IPAC in the state, Mr Edward Constance, pledged support and commitment of the commission to credible poll in 2019, assuring that IPAC would always partner INEC to create a virile electoral environment.
Constance, who is also Chairman of United People’s Party (UPP) in Ebonyi, expressed optimism on the ability of INEC to conduct credible elections in the state in 2019.
He said “we have assured the commission that we will support, cooperate as well as partner it to ensure free, fair and credible 2019 general elections.
“The meeting was interactive and afforded members of the council opportunity to express views and ask questions on matters of electoral importance.
“We have also assured the commission that we are not going to engage in early campaigns, and that we will confine political activities in our respective parties within the provisions of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines.”
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