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Why we released 2019 polls dates – INEC chair

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, explained why it decided to announce the dates for the 2019 general elections in advance.

The Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made the explanation during an interactive meeting between INEC and the media in Abuja.

He said the announcement was to make room for proper planning, need to get the commission’s budget properly sorted out as well as in the interest of international best practices.

He said: “We did it basically in order to plan properly. We cannot continue to be master of fire brigade. We should be moving from uncertainty to certainty. We need a lot of time to plan.

“It is a huge task. We reckon that 2019 is going to be another year full of elections with 27 governorship elections, 109 Senate, 360 Federal Constituencies, 991 State constituencies and 68 in the Federal Capital Territory comprising six Chairmanship seats and 62 Councillorship seats”, he said.

The INEC Chairman pointed out that there are 40 registered parties in the country with fresh 87 applications from political parties seeking registration as political parties.

He assured that the provisions of the laws and the guidelines of INEC will be strictly applied in determining the ones to be registered.

The Chairman of the Commission also raised the alarm that 7.8 million Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) are yet to be collected over two years after the conduct of the 2015 general election.

Prof. Yakubu noted with sadness that despite the various enlightenment efforts by INEC, 7.8 million Nigerians have failed to come forward for the collection of their PVCs.

He pointed out that slightly over 700,000 PVCs have so far been collected since the conclusion of the 2015 general election and now.

Prof. Yakubu however appealed to those yet to collect their PVCs to step forward to do so.

The INEC Chairman disclosed that the Commission will, by next month (April), commence the continuous voters’ registration exercise with a view to cleaning up the voters register because of those that may have died between the last time the exercise was carried out and now as well as to accommodate those that have now attained the age of 18 years.

He revealed that the commission has conducted a total of one hundred and sixty-seven (167) elections of various categories since the 2015 general election.

A breakdown of the various elections conducted by INEC between 2015 and now indicated that they (the elections) were made up of governorship in Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi and Edo states, Senatorial, House of Representatives, State Houses of Assembly and Local Government Chairmen and councillorship in the Federal Capital Territory as well 16 bye-elections in some states.

The outstanding elections, the Commission pointed out, are the Anambra Central Senatorial, Mashi/Dutse federal constituency seat in Katsina and Warri South I State constituency of Delta State.

The INEC Chairman disclosed that no fewer that sixteen elected officers have so far died between 2015 and now following which bye-elections have been held to fill the vacuum created, with only two of such pending.

He also said that about thirty certificates of returns have been issued by the Commission to some elected officers on the account of court judgments.

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