By Aluta News
Jan. 11, 2024
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State, says 12 candidates of different political parties will be contesting the Feb. 3 Surulere Federal Constituency I bye-election.
The Lagos State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Prof. Ayobami Salami, disclosed this on Thursday at a Stakeholders’ Meeting with leadership of political parties, religion, and security among other stakeholders.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Surulere Federal Constituency I seat became vacant due to the resignation of the former occupant, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, who after winning, was appointed by President Bola Tinubu as his Chief of Staff.
The REC said the purpose of the meeting was to brief party leaders on the commission’s level of preparedness for the forthcoming bye-election, scheduled for Feb. 3.
“The commission is required by law to conduct a bye-election in Surulere federal constituency 1 to fill the vacancy arising from resignation of Gbajabiamila.
“It is worthy of note to inform us that this category of election belongs to the class of bye-elections, which are also fresh elections.
“To this end, it goes without saying that political parties must conduct fresh primaries within the time frame provided by the enabling instruments to elect their candidates.
“In tandem with the provisions of the enabling instruments, the following electoral activities have been undertaken so far, to ensure not only the smooth conduct of the process but also demonstrate its fairness and transparency.
“Notice of election was given on Jan. 4, while party primaries to elect candidates held from Jan. 5 to Jan. 9.
“List of 14 political parties were forwarded from the national headquarters to partake in the process but only 12 political parties eventually participated and have been submitted to the national headquarters for publication,” Salami said.
He listed the candidates to include: Akinyemi Da-Sliva (Accord) Kayode Jelili (Action Alliance) Collins Aigbokhaode (African Democratic Congress) Fuad Laguda (All Progressives Congress) Jonathan Ololade (All Progressives Grand Alliance) and Samuel Ekwuruke (Allied People’s Movement).
Others are: Yinusa Adisa (Action People’s Party) Adeola Adebanjo (Labour Party) Jerry Afemighie (Peoples Democratic Party) Muyiwa Adedeji (Social Democratic Party); Oluwole Austine Brito (Young Progressive Party) Emereole Anthony (Zenith Labour Party).
According to him, recruitment and training of ad hoc officials to take part in the bye-election are on-going through root training.
“These ad hoc staff consist of serving corps members and INEC officials.
“The non-sensitive materials meant for the election have been arranged, while we await the delivery of sensitive materials,” the INEC boss said.
He said the essence of the meeting was also to keep all stakeholders on equal page in tandem with the mission statement of the commission which was to serve as an independent and effective Election Management Body (EMB).
Salami said that INEC was committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections for sustainable democracy.
“I want to assure all stakeholders that on our part, we are going to adhere strictly to our guiding principles and bring to bear, our core values with a view to ensuring that we midwife a process, devoid of any rancour or acrimony.
“Being a double edged game, the commission will also profoundly appreciate that the stakeholders play the game according to the established rules. The idea of ballot snatching, vote buying and thuggery should be jettisoned.
“Let us strive together to allow our democracy grow and stand the test of time, ” the INEC boss said.
Also speaking, the INEC Administrative Secretary, Mrs Feyijimi Saseyi, who recognised past efforts of the critical stakeholders, called for more cooperation and collaboration saying: “INEC work with rules and regulations.”
Saseyi advised party stakeholders to always approach INEC for any clarification when in doubt or confused.
Addressing the stakeholders on level of preparedness, Mr Gabriel Abidakun, INEC Head of Department (HOD) Election Party Monitoring said that primary elections, if properly carried out by political parties, was to deepen internal democracy within the party.
Abidakun, who noted that the next phase of the exercise was campaign, said that public campaigns by political parties would commence on Jan. 18 and end on Feb. 1.
“Take violence out of the campaign. Eschew violence. The space is wide enough for all political parties to campaign. Do your campaign without violence.
“Take permission from constituted authority before open air rallies and processions. Adhere to the spending limits and date for the submission of the party agents.
“Avoid foul language, sell your candidate and leave them alone to make their choice,” Abidakun said.
Also speaking, Mrs Oluyemi Adeyemi -Showunmi, the HOD, Electoral Operations, said that Surulere Federal Constituency I consisted of six Registration Areas (Wards) and 258 Polling Units.
According to her, the total number of registered voters in the six wards remained the same at 140,377, while only 121, 111 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) were collected.
Adeyemi-Showunmi said the commission had begun batching non sensitive materials which would soon be distributed.
Also, Mr Muyiwa Yusuf, the INEC HOD ICT explained that no fewer than 258 Bimodal Accreditation Voter Machine (BVAS) aside back up BVAS, would be deployed, adding that the configuration of the machine would soon start.
NAN reports that other INEC HODs also took turns to explain to the stakeholders, their level of preparations for the election.