July 18, (THEWILL) – Three off season elections will take place between 2021 and July 2022. They are the Anambra State Governorship Election, which is scheduled for November 6, 2021; Ekiti and Osun State Governorship Elections, both of which will take place on June 18 and July 16, 2022, respectively.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), whose responsibility is to conduct all three elections, has expressed its readiness to accomplish this task in spite of the high level of insecurity in the country.
Speaking while announcing the dates for the elections, INEC reiterated its commitment to raise standards set in previous elections. The Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, charged Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to work towards addressing some reccurring logistics issues in the conduct of future elections and ensure that the forthcoming elections are different from all previous elections, in terms of INEC’s preparations and delivery.
Preparation for the Anambra governorship election is at fever pitch. Up to 11 political parties in the state have already picked their standard bearers. However, unexpected changes in the choice of candidates through court pronouncements cannot be entirely ruled out.
According to the timetable announced by INEC, the candidates for the Anambra governorship election will start their campaign on August 8, 2021 and end it on November 4, 2021, about 48 hours to the election scheduled for Saturday November 6, 2021. Also, the official list of voters registered for the election will be published on October 7, 2021 alongside the final list of nominated candidates.
INEC said the tenure of the incumbent governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, will end on October 15, 2022.
The timetable for the election, which was extracted from the commission’s website, also revealed that the conduct of political parties’ primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from the primaries, will take place between January 4 and 29, 2022.
Other details on the timetable of the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti include: Publications of personal particulars of the candidates ( EC9) – February 11, 2022; last day for withdrawal by candidate (s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate (s) by political parties – February 25, 2021; and the last day for submission of Nomination Form (EC13B) by political parties – March 11, 2022.
According to INEC, political parties and their candidates will begin public campaign on March 20, 2022 and end on June 16, 2022. This will be preceded by final list of publication of nominated candidates by the commission.
INEC also announced that the tenure of Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State will end on November 26, 2022. It fixed the governorship election in the state for July 18, 2022.
According to the timetable on INEC’s website, the conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from the primaries, is scheduled to take place between February 16 and March 12 , 2022, while the last day for withdrawal by candidates /replacement of withdrawn candidates by political parties will end by April 8, 2022. Campaign by the political parties and their candidates will start on April 17, 2022 and end on July 16, 2022.
INEC has also expressed its readiness to follow the timetable for the election religiously. To political analysts and observers, this position is sacrosanct. Their optimism is drawn from the commission’s determined efforts, which led to the conduct of two governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States in 2020.
The way and manner in which INEC officials and adhoc staff conducted themselves during the two elections gave Nigerians the hope that the future of Nigeria’s democracy is bright.
One feature of the election that received praises from the electorate in the two states was the transmission of results at the polling units directly to the commission’s website, thereby rendering manipulations at the collation centres impossible. But like Oliver Twist, Nigerians are demanding more innovations and improvement in the performance of the electoral umpire.
Assuring the voters in Nigeria, particularly in the three states where the off season elections will take place, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission had always striven to improve on its performance during elections.
Stressing that INEC would perform optimally in the forthcoming elections, he called for the cooperation of the electorate and the security agencies in ensuring peace before, during and after the election in the three states.
Also speaking on the Anambra governorship election in an interview with THEWILL, the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, urged INEC to give Nigerians credible elections in the three states and the 2023 general elections.
“I will advise INEC as a Pan–Africanist. Nowadays, we in ADC don’t talk of only Nigeria; we talk of Africa. You are in Lagos. Lagos is in Africa and Lagos is supposed to be the economic power of Africa. Kano is supposed to be another major hub in Africa, not in Nigeria. So we in ADC, we are thinking globally. We want our people to start to thinking globally because when we are involved in the project called Nigeria, before you know it, we will start to spit on each other. We start to engage each other and in such a system, there will be a form of disharmony. Then the energy to see the big picture will disappear. So ADC is thinking about Africa and the world. That will help us to grow within ourselves and the large nation we want to see.
“We need to advance our democracy. I heard that the APC are saying that they are going to write the result of the Anambra election by all means possible. INEC should resist this. We need to advance our democracy beyond election. INEC should give Nigeria a credible election. I told INEC: If you give us credible elections and ensure credible and transparent election in Anambra State, ADC as a party will guarantee all Nigerians a super power country within the next 20 years . It will begin immediately and in less than 20 years.
“Nigeria will be well established as a super power economy in the world. If you have that it will privilege all ethnic groups in Nigeria. So if people are thinking small, I will introduce corruption into the system. I am introducing this or that, when we have this parochial view of leadership it will be disadvantaged to everybody . But if you have this panoramic, broad spectrum view, vision, attitude and discipline it privileges everybody”.
While also speaking with THEWILL, Comrade Sola Olawale, who has served as an election monitor in various elections held in Nigeria, described the task before INEC in the coming elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States as huge.
“The elections are important for INEC, the electorate and the security agencies because it will be a rehearsal for the 2023 general elections. IN EC should therefore use the conduct of the elections to assure Nigerians of its readiness for the 2023 general elections. The commission’s performance in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections is commendable, but there is still room for improvement,” Olawale said.
The National Coordinator of Democracy Vanguard, Comrade Adeola Soetan, told THEWILL that INEC should always walk its talk by being firm on principle and implementation of its public pronouncement concerning the conduct of election.
He said, “If INEC says there won’t be manual accreditation of voters, except by card readers, so be it. No manual here while they use card readers there. It creates suspicion and confusion.
“Logistic problem should be avoided. Any delay in the arrival of INEC personnel and materials leads to tension and rumor. Punctuality is key.
“Collation centres are always unnecessarily tensed due to the late arrival of Local Government Collation Officers. Regarding the alleged denial of some collation agents of political parties, INEC should insist that the parties must forward their agents on time and such persons should be publicly announced to prevent agents of some parties from fraudulently impersonating agents of other parties”.
Will INEC deliver credible elections in the three off season elections? Nigerians are watching and waiting.