73 candidates for presidential election, says INEC
• APC has no candidates in Rivers, Zamfara
• PDP, Accord Party condemn removal
• Commission defends list
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that 73 candidates are contesting in the forthcoming presidential election, 1,904 in the senatorial and 4,680 in the House of Representatives, making a total of 6,657 candidates contesting for 470 seats.It said the final list of candidates for governorship, state Houses of Assembly and FCT Area Council elections would be released on Thursday, January 31, 2019 in accordance with the commission’s timetable and schedule of activities.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, who disclosed this yesterday during a meeting with vice chancellors of universities in Abuja, said the collation of results would take place in 8,809 registration areas or wards, 774 local councils and 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Yakubu said the commission would require 10,603 ad-hoc staff to support the various collation and declaration processes.
Meanwhile, in the list of presidential candidates released by INEC, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has lost the bid for the presidential contest as its presidential candidate, Jerry Gana’s name, was not in the list.The SDP had nominated former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, as its presidential candidate but the nomination was later squashed by an Abuja High Court, which declared Gana as the validly nominated presidential candidate of the party.
Similarly, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will not participate in the National Assembly elections in Rivers and Zamfara states, as the list featured no candidates for them.A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt last week issued a restraining order on INEC not to recognise candidates of both factions of APC in Rivers State for the general elections following parallel primaries held in the state.
Also, INEC had banned APC from presenting candidates for National Assembly, governorship and state House of Assembly elections for failure to comply with the deadline for conduct of party primaries last year. Meanwhile, the removal of Rivers State APC from the list of parties and candidates published by INEC to contest the 2019 general elections in the state has attracted several reactions.
But speaking on the issue at the commission’s office yesterday, Resident Electoral Officer (REC), Oboh Effanga, said: “We did not remove any name. We only published names of parties for the election and APC is not on the list.”However, Spokesman of Rivers APC, Chris Finebone, said: “The INEC is obeying the last pronouncements of the Federal High Court directing that our candidates be removed from the list.
“The appeal has been activated and we believe that very shortly, we will get a stay of execution and favourable appeal decision early enough to get our candidates’ names on board by maintaining status quo.”Also, Spokesman of Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, Ogbonna Nwuke, said: “Teeming members of the APC in Rivers State have been urged to remain calm and steadfast.“Our leaders are on top of the situation and they are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that we obtain justice through the judiciary.”
The House of Representatives candidate for Akuku Toru/Asari Toru Federal Constituency under Accord Party (AP), Chief Donald AK Horsfall, said: “As far as Rivers State is concerned, as far as the law is concerned, there is no APC. We just had a judgment, which reiterated the fact that no APC candidate at any level in Rivers State. “We have every confidence that an Appeal Court judgment will be upheld by the Supreme Court. So, APC, first of all, is not a factor as it stands now.
“The other big political party is the PDP as we know, but we’ve seen before where smaller parties like the Labour Party defeated so-called big parties as Nigerians have come to understand that it is not a party issue; it is individual credibility.
Chairman of PDP in the State, Felix Obuah, has commended the move by hundreds of the chieftains of APC led by their Women Leader, Mrs. Victoria Mgboh, who defected to the PDP during the rally in Tai Local Council of the state. Obuah assured them of equal privileges, stating that they took the right step at the right time.