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New electoral law forces INEC to shift 2023 polls

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Saturday announced a new timetable for the 2023 general elections.

According to the comprehensive timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections released by the commission in Abuja, the presidential and National Assembly elections would now hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023 as against February 18, 2023 earlier announced, while governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections would take place on March 11, 2023.

The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during a press briefing in Abuja, explained that the shift was informed by the newly-signed Electoral Act.

Yakubu explained that the new dates were to allow for conformity with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which stipulated that elections notice be published at least 360 days to the elections.

The decision by INEC came barely 24 hours after the signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The President signed the bill 25 days after receiving the reworked bill from the National Assembly.

The delay by the President in taking a position generated anxiety and was met with widespread criticisms.

Yakubu said on Saturday that INEC could not release the detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the General Elections, as it normally would, because of the pending enactment of the Electoral Act 2022, until it was signed into law by the President on Friday.

He said, “The Electoral Act 2022, together with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), form the legal basis for conducting all elections in Nigeria.

“In particular, the Electoral Act provides strict timelines for the implementation of electoral activities based on the date of the general elections.

“One of the significant timelines is the publication of Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for holding an election which has now lapsed for the 2023 general elections.

“Consequently, the commission has decided to adjust the dates of the 2023 general elections to ensure compliance with the provisions of the new law.

“Accordingly, the presidential and National Assembly elections will now hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023 while the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday, March 11, 2023. With this adjustment, the 2023 general election is now 363 days away.

“Under the law, there are critical time-bound activities from the publication of Notice of Election to the conduct of polls which form the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for elections.”

Yakubu emphasised that the slight changes in date for the 2023 elections would not increase the cost of the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

E-transmission of results possible in over 176,000 locations, says Yakubu
With the new Electoral Act, the INEC chairman added that the results of the 2023 general elections would be electronically transmitted.

While responding to questions from journalists, Yakubu said from the pilot conducted regarding transmission of results to its Results Viewing Portal, the commission had the capacity to transmit results electronically.

He said, “From the pilot we have conducted regarding transmitting results to our IREV portal, we have covered all the nook and cranny of Nigeria and we have no challenge whether in the remote areas or urban areas.

“That has convinced us that we can transmit election results just by uploading polling units results from the over 176,000 locations nationwide.

“Therefore, we are encouraged by the pilot that we have conducted that we have the capacity to transmit results from the polling units nationwide.”

Yakubu, however said the commission was working with stakeholders to ensure that it improves on the processes for seamless transmission with the signing of the new Electoral Act.

The INEC chairman said with the new dates, campaign for presidential and National Assembly elections by political parties would now commence on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.

Yakubu said notice of election would be published on Monday, while conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from them will take place between April 4 and June 3, 2022.

The INEC boss added that submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online portal for presidential and National Assembly elections would commence from 9am on Friday, June 10, 2022 and end by 6pm on Friday, June 17, 2022.

He said added, “Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online nomination portal for governorship and state Assembly elections is from 9am on Friday, July 1, 2022 to 6pm on Friday, July 15, 2022.

“Commencement of campaign by political parties for presidential and National Assembly elections will be Wednesday September 28, 2022.

“Commencement of campaign by political parties for governorship and State Assembly elections will start on Wednesday, October 12, 2022.

“Last day of campaign by political parties for presidential and National Assembly elections will be midnight on Thursday, February 23, 2023.

“Last day of campaign by political parties for governorship and state Assembly elections will be midnight on Thursday, March 9, 2023.”

He said with the coming into force of the Electoral Act 2022, the commission would work assiduously to conclude and publish new Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections that are consistent with the Act.

“These regulations and guidelines as well as manuals issued by the commission are all part of the legal regulatory framework for elections.

“Their timely publication will enable all stakeholders in the electoral process to become conversant with their provisions as they prepare for the 2023 general elections.

“On this note, I wish to remind stakeholders, especially the political parties, of their responsibility to adhere strictly to the timelines in this Timetable and Schedule of Activities, as well as all other timelines established by the commission,” he added.

The INEC chairman said it was necessary that all political parties comply with the extant legal framework, ensure proper organisation and management of party primaries and the nomination of qualified candidates in order to prevent unnecessary litigations and rancour.

He warned politicians and political parties against campaigning before the designated time.

Speaking on whether INEC would sanction erring candidates who would start campaign ahead of the dates, he answered affirmatively.

He said, “This is not just a matter of Electoral Act, it is a constitutional provision that there is a timeframe for the commencement of campaign which is 150 days to the election and there is also a period for end of campaign, which is 24 hours to the election.

“Let me seize this opportunity to call the attention of political parties and candidates that the law makes specific, definite provisions for the commencement of campaigns and end of campaigns and all Nigerians are required to adhere to the provisions of the law, including political parties and candidates.

“We will hold meeting with all parties to discuss not only the issue of campaign but all other issues that require the attention of political parties as provided in the Electoral Act.”

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POLITICS

I won’t allow anyone steal my votes this time – Adeleke

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The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the July 16 governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has warned against any attempt to manipulate the poll.

Adeleke alleged that he was rigged out in the 2018 governorship election and told anyone planning to rig the poll not to play with the resolve of Osun people that were seeking change in government.

The ex-federal lawmaker, who said he had spoken with members of his party to eschew violence, added that he would not sit back and watch while people attempted to steal votes.

He said, “We have spoken with our members. We want peace. We are not out to fight anyone or cause trouble, but we will not stay idle or watch and appear helpless when people attempt to steal votes. We will stop them.

“Unlike what happened four years ago, I will not allow anyone steal my votes and that of the PDP. We all saw what happened four years ago, when angels of darkness colluded with some anti-democratic forces to upturn the desire of the good people of Osun State.

“We have warned them not to play with the resolve of the people of Osun State who are genuinely seeking and praying for the election day to come so that they can heave a sigh of relieve from their current unpalatable government.”

Asked about the rancour in the Osun PDP,  Adeleke said, “It is a family affair. We are not fighting. We initially disagreed when we were seeking the party’s ticket. That has been settled by the delegates and the court has also stamped their decision. Everyone that contested wants the PDP to win the election. We will do so together and I am sure they are all working with us to achieve positive result.”

But while reacting to the PDP candidate’s claims, Media Adviser to the chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Osun, Kola Olabisi, said Adeleke’s claim that the 2018 governorship election was rigged by the ruling APC was tantamount to rubbishing Supreme Court which had upheld the ruling party’s victory.

Olabisi said, “No discerning mind will take any outburst from the embattled Senator Jackson Nurudeen Adeleke with seriousness because of his unenviable past records.

“One can understand why it is pretty impossible and difficult for him to comprehend the fact that once the Supreme Court of Nigeria has made a verdict on an issue, it is settled once and for all.  Jackson won’t know this because of his limited education or absolute lack of same.

“Referring to the 2018 Osun State governorship election by any entity as being rigged by Governor Oyetola is tantamount to rubbishing the highest court in the land with impunity.  If Ademola is insisting that he won the 2018 governorship election, why has he not been the four-year tenant of the Bola Ige House?  Ademola Adeleke is only ranting. He should be ignored.”

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POLITICS

Confusion as APC clears Attorney-General, Malami for election, despite withdrawing from governorship race

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has been cleared by the screening committee of the All Progressives Congress to contest the 2023 Kebbi governorship election.

This is despite Malami’s withdrawal from the governorship race last week Friday.

Malami, who declared interest to contest in the Kebbi governorship race last month, pulled out of the race for fear that he might not get the ticket.

Fearing that he might not get the ticket under the current circumstances, Malami was said to have changed his plan and pulled out of the governorship race.

However, a document seen by Peoples Gazette conveyed Malami’s clearance to run, stirring controversy in the political sphere since the AGF had already withdrawn his governorship ambition, in order to retain his ministerial appointment.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last week issued a directive ordering all political appointees to resign before contesting in the forthcoming general elections.

It is unclear if Malami had turned in his resignation to pursue his political quest in compliance with Buhari’s directive or if he was waiting for the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the contentious section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

A series of political appointees have sparked public outrage after they went against political norms to seek elective positions without resigning.

Also, there has been a cold political war between the incumbent governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, and the political arrowhead of Kebbi, Senator Adamu Aliero, over who succeeds the former.

While Bagudu, who chairs the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), is rooting for Malami as his successor, Aliero, a two-term governor of the state, has Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi as his preferred candidate for the APC governorship ticket.

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POLITICS

PHOTOS: Ganduje removes Kwankwaso red cap from supporter’s head, replaces it with Tinubu’s cap

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Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano State on Wednesday taunted his predecessor in office, Rabiu Kwankwaso.

The governor removed Kwankwaso red cap from one of the former governor’s strong supporter who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

  The red cap is a symbol of Kwankwaso’s political movement, Kwankwasiyya Movement.

Yusuf Ibrahim Sharada , an aspirant for House of Representatives for Kano Municipal, who just decamped to APC had visited Ganduje at Government House, Kano.

While receiving Sharada , Ganduje removed his red cap and held it with his mouth before replacing it with a cap with an insignia popularised by Bola Tinubu.

Ganduje is a strong advocate of the presidential ambition of Tinubu.

The Ganduje and Kwankwaso parted ways, politically, in 2015, following alleged insistence of Kwankwaso to control the government of Ganduje.

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