The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday released the list and particulars of candidates vying for several positions at the federal level in the forthcoming 2023 General Elections.
The names of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and former Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, as well as that of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi were conspicuously missing as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the names of the successfully nominated candidates of the 18 political parties on Friday.
For the purposes of claims and objections, forms and particulars of presidential candidates were slated to be published on Friday, at the INEC headquarters in Abuja while those of senatorial candidates were pasted at its offices across the federation.
Despite not participating in the senatorial primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held in May, the names of Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi were submitted by their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), just before the expiration of the deadline given the parties to submit their candidates’ names.
Lawan and Akpabio were controversially nominated as candidates for Yobe North and Akwa-Ibom Northwest respectively ahead of the 2023 poll, while Umahi was submitted for Ebonyi South Senatorial District
Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi were among the 23 presidential aspirants tha vied for the APC presidential ticket which was later won by firmer Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Although Akpabio had stepped down from the race in favour of Tinubu and decided to pursue a seat in the Senate, both Lawan and Umahi were among the 13 presidential aspirants who contesteste the June 8 presidential primary of the APC.
At the time the Lawan and Akpabio were pursuing their presidential ambition, Bashir Machina and retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udom Ekpoudom, had emerged for the Yobe North and Akwa-Ibom Northwest in primaries respectively supervised by INEC officials.
For Umahi, his brother, Austin, won the party’s ticket in Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
While there have been some controversies around Akpabio’s ‘backdoor’ emergence, Machina has continuously vowed not to step down for Senate President Lawan.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, said the commission is not obligated to publish the name of candidates that did not emerge from valid party primaries.
“If a political party submits to the Independent National Electoral Commission the name of a candidate that did not emerge from party primaries or did not emerge from valid party primaries, the commission is not obligated to publish the name of such a candidate”, he said.
Okoye, however, clarified that INEC has not published the final list of validly nominated candidates.
He said, “The final list of validly nominated candidates will be published by the Independent National Electoral Commission on the 20th day of September, 2022. And that is for presidential and national assembly candidates.
“What the commission has published, as of today, complies with Section 29(3) of the electoral act which says that the moment political parties comply with the provision of Section 29 (1) of the electoral act in terms of the submission of its validly nominated candidates, that the Commission shall publish the personal particulars of such candidates in the constituencies where the candidates intend to contest the election.
“In other words, for instance for a senatorial candidate, if a senatorial district covers four local governments, we will publish the personal particulars of such a candidate in the four local governments.
“So that is exactly what we have done. And we published the personal particulars of candidates that emerged from valid party primaries. And that’s what the law says we should do.”
Accordingly, he said, if the name of any candidate was not published, or if the personal particulars of any candidate was not published today, the implication is that such a candidate did not emerge from valid party primaries.
If INEC eventually throws out the names of Akpabio and Lawan from its final list, as stipulated in Section 84(13) of the Electoral Act for such a case, the APC may as well risk not fielding candidates for the Yobe North and Akwa-Ibom North-west senatorial seats in the 2023 general elections.
Meanwhile, names of presidential candidates of various parties have also been displayed at the INEC offices.
Among the names are Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his running mate Ibrahim Masari; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate and his running mate Ifeanyi Okowa and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and his running mate Doyin Okupe, and other names and running mates of presidential candidates of other political parties.
The list was published along with the affidavit in support of personal particulars (Form EC9) of Presidential and National Assembly candidates for the purpose of claims and objections.