By Lois Ugbede
As the 2019 general election draws near and campaigns kick off for the presidential and National Assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked parties to stick to the electoral laws in their campaigns.
The chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Wednesday during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Campaigns commenced on November 18 in line with the commission’s timetable. Since then, the two major parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have released their policy papers.
While that of the APC is titled “Next Level”, that of the PDP is titled “Getting Nigeria Working Again”.
INEC said it is pleased that since the commencement of campaigns, the focus has been on policies rather than personalities.
The commission promised to closely monitor campaigns and ensure they are in compliance with the law.
“The commission is committed to closely monitoring the campaigns pursuant to our statutory mandate and to ensure compliance with the extant laws and regulations.
“We are pleased that the focus in the last few days since the commencement of the campaigns has been on policies rather than personalities. We sincerely hope it remains this way.”
Several sections of the electoral law regulate the conduct of campaign by political parties and politicians. An example is Section 95 of the Electoral Act (2010), subsection (1) which says “no political campaign or slogan shall be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.”
Subsection 2 of the section also said : “Abusive intemperate, slanderous or base language or insinuations or innuendoes, designed or likely to provoke violent reactions or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns”.
Mr Yakubu said Wednesday’s meeting was to enable RECs report on the outcome of the exercise in their various state, dwelling on the progress made on the collection of outstanding Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) by citizens as well as new modalities for a more efficient administration of the collection process.
He also said the meeting would consider the recruitment and training of election duty staff, discuss the ongoing review of the framework for voting by Internally Displaced (IDPs), and explore additional administrative measures in support of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process.