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402 days to go: INEC releases timetable for 2019 polls


.Presidential/NASS election to hold on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019

.Governorship / State Assembly poll holds on March 2, 2019

.’More political parties may be registered’

High wire politics and horse trading will now take centre stage in the national affairs of the country as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday released timetable for the 2019 general election, 402 days to the D-Day.

According to the INEC timetable, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, February 16, 2019, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

The FCT Council elections are to be combined with the Governorship and State Assembly elections since the tenure of FCT Chairmen and Councillors will end in 2019.

The Commission’s chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who gave the indication while answering questions during a press briefing at INEC secretariat in Abuja, said there is constitutional provisions for registration of political associations that satisfied both constitution and electoral act’s provisions for registration.

Indications also emerged that more political associations may participate in the 2019 general election as full-fledged parties before the general election.

He said: “There is constitutional provision for it and INEC has not changed its position, any party that meet constitutional provision will be registered”.

Releasing the election time table 402 days to the opening of the polling units nationwide on Saturday, February 16, 2019, Yakubu said the development is a clear departure from past practice when dates were announced close to elections.

The chairman said the decision of the Commission to fix elections dates “is to engender certainty in our electoral calendar and to enable all stakeholders to prepare adequately for elections, as is the case in many mature and developing democracies”.

He disclosed that INEC has concluded its strategic plan of action for the current election cycle and beyond covering the period between 2017 and 2021 as well as election project plan.

“The Commission is moving away from the culture of quick fix, fire brigade approach to the management of elections in Nigeria.

“As our democracy matures, the planning and implementation of electoral activities should be predictable and systematic, given the size and population of the country, the terrain, logistic requirements, the increasing number of political parties, security challenges and number of constituencies for which elections are to be held”.

Yakubu also reeled out activities for the election as specified by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

He said: “Publication of Notice of Election for the National and State elections is fixed for 17th August, 2018 while that of FCT Area Council election is 3rd September, 2018.

“Collection of nomination forms by political parties for national and state elections will come between 11th and 24th August, 2018 and that of the FCT Area Council elections holds between 3rd and 10th September, 2018.

“Conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from primaries will hold between 18th August 2018 and 7th October,2018, while commencement of campaigns by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly election is 18th November,2018, Governorship and State Assembly, 1st December, 2018 and the FCT Area Council election on 2nd December, 2018.

“Last day for submission of nomination forms to INEC by candidates for the Presidential and National Assembly election is 3rd December,2018, Governorship and State Assembly election 17th,December,2018 and FCT Area Council, 14th December, 2018”.

INEC also fixed 14th February, 2019 as the last day of campaign for Presidential and National Assembly elections, 28th February, 2019 for Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections.

The chairman assured Nigerians that the Commission will implement these dates to the letters, while he reminded political parties and politicians that elections are governed by laws, urging them to uphold the constitution and the Electoral Act.

He advised them to eschew bitterness and conduct their activities with decorum.

Tunde Opalana, Abuja

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