The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the dates for the 2019 general elections. The Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16th 2019, while Governorship, State Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Councils polls will hold on 2 March of the same year.
Mr Solomon Soyebi, National Commissioner of the commission in charge of publicity, announced the dates on Thursday at a news conference in Abuja.
Soyebi said INEC has standardised election dates in line with global practice, he gave examples with the US where general elections always held on the second Tuesday of November in the election year while Ghana often held its elections on Dec. 7 of the election year. He also stated that in countries like Sweden, Norway, Mexico, Switzerland and Costa Rica election dates are announced well in advance of schedule.
He said “In Nigeria, the Constitution provides for the elections to hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure.
“In order to ensure certainty in our dates for elections, and to allow proper planning by the commission, it has fixed date for national elections for the third Saturday in February of the election year.
“This will be followed by state elections two weeks later. Political parties, security agencies, candidates and all stakeholders are advised to note the dates’’.
He further explained that the dates were the closest to 100 days towards the end of the tenures of the incumbents.
He added that for states with staggered elections, election dates will be determined by the expiration of tenures of the incumbents.
Furthermore, he said that the 23 electoral officers indicted over their roles in the Dec. 10, 2016, legislative election rerun in Rivers are being prosecuted in line with the provisions of INEC Terms and Conditions of Service as the alleged offences constituted gross misconduct.
“The penalty for this is interdiction. All the 23 electoral officers will be placed on half salary and will not report for duty pending the determination of their respective cases by the court,’’ Soyebi said.
The commissioner also said INEC has not taken a decision on the EFCC report on indicted officials for misconduct during the 2015 general elections, stating that this would enable the commission to reconcile the report with that of its Disciplinary Committee as some of the workers were already charged to court on the Rivers elections.
Soyebi confirmed that about 84 political associations were seeking registration as political parties including the Advanced Peoples Democratic Party.
“As at the last count, the commission has received 84 applications from political associations demanding registration and the applications are at various levels of processes of registration,’’ he said.