By EMMANUEL OLONIRUHA
ABUJA- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has published the final list of candidates for 2023 national elections.
The general elections will be conducted for Presidential, National and State constituencies as well as governorship, but the list covered only the federal positions.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the list of candidates for the presidential elections includes Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP), Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Party (NNPP), Sowere Stephen of the African Action Congress (AAC ), Kachikwu Dumebi of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and 12 others with their running mates.
Mr Festus Okoye, the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, on Tuesday in Abuja, said that INEC at its regular weekly meeting held on Tuesday approved the final list of candidates for the polls.
Okoye said that the publication was in pursuant to Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and item 8 of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.
He said that the publication of the full names and addresses of all nominated candidates follows the political parties’ conduct of primaries and completion of the nomination exercise.
He recalled that at end of the process, the personal particulars of all nominated candidates were displayed in their constituencies nationwide as provided by Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act.
“Subsequently, validly nominated candidates had the opportunity to voluntarily withdraw their candidature by notice in writing and personally deliver such notice to the political party that nominated them for the election.
“Thereafter, political parties substituted such candidates under Section 31 of the Electoral Act for which the last day was 15th July 2022 for national elections and 12th August 2022 for State elections as clearly provided in item 6 of the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities.
“Thereafter, no withdrawal or substitution of candidates is allowed except in the event of death as provided in section 34(1) of the Electoral Act or pursuant to an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction.’’
Okoye said that the list published contained the names of candidates validly nominated for national elections at the close of party primaries and the period earmarked for withdrawal and substitution of candidates.
He added the final list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Constituencies) would be published on Oct. 4, as already indicated on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.
“We note the fact that not all the political parties conducted primaries in all the constituencies, submitted the particulars of candidates that emerged from valid primaries or substituted their candidates after fresh primaries within 14 days as provided in Section 33 of the Electoral Act.
“This has led to numerous litigations, some of which are ongoing.
“Where the Commission was served with Court orders by aggrieved aspirants or candidates before the publication of this list, these have been indicated under the remark column.’’
Okoye said that in summary, all the 18 political parties have fielded candidates and their running mates for the Presidential election.
“For legislative elections, 1,101 candidates are vying for 109 Senatorial seats and 3,122 candidates for Federal Constituencies i.e. House of Representatives seats, making a total of 4,223 candidates contesting for 469 legislative positions.
“In terms of gender distribution, 3,875 candidates are male, made up of 35 for Presidential and Vice Presidential, 1,008 for Senate and 2,832 for House of Representatives.
“Similarly, 381 females comprising one for Presidential, 92 for Senate, and 288 for House of Representatives are contesting. There are also 11 Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the race.’’
Okoye said that the list for specific constituencies was published in each state where they were located while the comprehensive nationwide list had been uploaded to the Commission’s website.
He therefore appealed to all political parties to channel any observations on the list of candidates to the commission.
He, however, added that such must be signed by the National Chairman and Secretary of the political party and supported with an affidavit as provided in Section 32(2) of the Electoral Act 2022. (NAN)