By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)has registered an additional party, the African People’s Party (APP), bring the number of registered parties in the country to 46.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made this known while swearing in nine new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the party was on Tuesday issued Certificate of Registration in compliance with a court order.
“The Commission yesterday issued Certificate of Registration to APP, which originally applied for registration as a political party in 2014.
“With this development, the number of political parties in Nigeria now stands at 46,’’ he said.
Yakubu also disclosed that the commission had so far registered 2,092,434 new registrants under the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration.
“At the end of the first quarter of the exercise, some 1,810,153 citizens were registered.
“The exercise is now in the second week of the second quarter and already some 282,281 citizens have been registered, making a total of 2,092,434 new registrants so far,’’ he added.
Yakubu congratulated the newly sworn-in RECs, five of which were reappointed for a second and final term, bringing the total number of RECs to 23.
He said that their appointment came at an auspicious time, exactly 548 days to the 2019 General Elections, and after the conclusion of the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021.
Yakubu advised them to be fair to all, partisan to none, saying that as election managers, they would be responsible for the implementation of the plan.
“As election managers, you must maintain the required openness and consultation.
“At the same time, you must be very firm and courageous on the side of the law as well as our regulations and guidelines as required of you as unbiased umpire, be fair to all, partisan to none.’’
Yakubu said that as new appointees, they would be immediately deployed to field orientation in the four elections to be conducted by the commission over the next few weeks.
The elections according to him are; Dukku North State Constituency by-election in Gombe State, the Eti Osa I State Constituency, Lagos State and Kware/Wamakko Federal Constituency in Sokoto State and Anambra Governorship election scheduled for Nov. 18.
Yakubu also said that as part of the Commission’s continuing improvement of the electoral process, it had introduced a new innovation in voter registration in Anambra.
“This will in due course be extended nationwide using our newly acquired Direct Data Capturing Machines (DDCMs).
“Data is now collected on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) categorised by gender and type of disability.
“This will help us in planning access to polling units and such other support on Election Day.
“This is important as persons with special needs and advocates of more inclusiveness in our democracy have demanded of the Commission for some time.’’
He assured Nigerians that INEC would continue to discharge its responsibilities conscientiously according to the law.
Mr Mike Igini, one of the newly sworn-in RECs, responding on behalf of others pledged that they would be guided by the mission and core values of INEC.
“We shall stand by the oath of office that we took today.
“We look forward to the commission to stand by us as gate keepers of the core values of this commission at the state level,’’ Igini said.
He added that the discharge of their duties would be guided by integrity and all other core values that guide their work at the states.
The new RECs are Igini, Mrs Asman Maikudi, Sam Olumekun, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu, Mr Kassim Geidam, Jubrin Zarewa, Mr Abdulganiyu Raji, Prof. Sam Egwu, and Mallam Sudiq Musa.(NAN)