Former PDP leader worried over 2019 elections dates

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Former National Deputy Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Uche Secondus, said fixing dates for 2019 general elections now was an “unnecessary haste’’ by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The commission had on Wednesday announced Feb. 16, 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly elections and March 2, 2019, for Governorship, State Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Councils polls.

An INEC National Commissioner, Mr Solomon Soyebi, who announced the dates in Abuja, said it was part of efforts by the commission to standardise and ensure certainty of timetable for general elections in the country.

Soyebi gave instances of countries, including US, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland where dates for general elections were standard and known calendars.

Secondus in a statement on Friday in Abuja said that it was shocking for INEC to have released timetable for 2019 general elections when it had more pressing issues to attend to.

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He alleged that INEC announced the dates without consultation with critical stakeholders like political parties and civil society groups whose inputs were always sought before final decisions were taken.

He described the action as part of the INEC determination to carry out designed agenda of the ruling party on the elections.

Secondus called for the dissolution of INEC as presently constituted, “with men and women of integrity as a measure to save the country’s democracy’’.

He said that the commission was currently operating without Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in 33 states.

“It is curious that an electoral commission that is yet to be properly constituted has before it many unfinished matters, including voter education and enlightenment.

“As we speak, Anambra gubernatorial election is due later this year and the state has no REC to carry out all the needful as enshrined in the Constitution before the election.

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“Since last year, Nigeria’s Senate had raised alarm over the implication of non-constitution of INEC but while the National Commissioners’ positions are filled, over 30 seats of RECs remain vacant,’’ Secondus said.

He, however, acknowledged that statutorily, the President had the responsibility to appoint the RECs subject to the confirmation of the Senate in line with Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. (NAN)

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