The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the election timetable for 36 years beginning from 2019.
Speaking at a consultative meeting with leaders of political parties in Abuja on Wednesday, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu explained that the 36-year timetable was aimed at engendering certainty in the election calendar and allow for long-term planning by the commission and all stakeholders
“In 2019, the dates for elections would be February 16 and March 2, in 2023, the dates are February 18 and March 4, while in 2027, the elections would hold on February 20 and March 6.Also in 2031, elections would hold on February 15 and March 1, while the 2035 elections would hold on February 17 and March 3.
“In 2039, February 19 and March 5, would serve the purpose, in 2043, it would hold on February 21 and March 7.Other dates are: 2047, February 15 and March 2, 2051, February 18 and March 1, and in 2055, February 20 and March 6,” he said.
He said in other democracies, periods of elections are not subject of conjectures and speculations, but known to all.
He said certainty in election calendar was necessary to match Nigeria’s democratic system with global best practices.
Yakubu also disclosed that the commission had, in the last one week received 108 applications from associations seeking to be registered as political parties.
He said 66 of the applications did not meet the initial requirements, 33 passed and had proceeded to the next stage while nine others were at the final stage of registration.
Besides, he said the commission had done data consolidation and ran the automated finger print identification system (AFIS) on all newly registered voters.
He explained that the commission was determined to clean up the voter register and remove ineligible voters, as provided for in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
He commended political parties for the roles they played in the governorship and National Assembly by-elections in Anambra which ensured that the exercises were crisis-free.
He urged all existing political parties yet to comply with all relevant sections of the constitutional requirements necessary for their existence, to do so. He advised the parties to ensure rancour-free conventions and congresses ahead of 2019 and the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections later in the year.
“Internal party democracy is critical to the overall success of the elections and it helps to eliminate some protracted litigations.
“Less than a year to the 2019 general elections, there are still cases in courts, challenging the nomination of candidates in the 2015 elections,’’ he said.
Yakubu urged the parties to support the commission in its quest to sanitise the voter register by drawing the attention of the umpire to any irregularity.
In his remarks, the chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Alhaji Mohammed Nalado, commended the commission for recognising political parties as partners. He said that with little or no financial support, political parties were at the forefront of voter sensitisation to the need to conduct themselves responsibly at polling units.
Nalado also applauded the commission for creating an enabling environment for free and fair elections by rolling out election calendar in good time.
He added that the political parties were happy with the position of INEC on the sequence of elections, saying the commission acted on the existing law.
He welcomed the newly-registered political parties to IPAC and urged INEC to support the council’s plan to amend its code of conduct.
He reasoned that the amendment will address issues of internal democracy, conflict resolution system among other issues affecting political parties in the country.