2023: Anxiety as Atiku, Tinubu, Obi, Lawan, Akpabio await INEC’s verdict
Political parties that uploaded list of candidates on INEC Candidate Nomination Portal (ICNP) for the February national election, have to wait till Friday to know if their nominations met the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requirements.
The INEC nomination portal shut down automatically by 6 pm last Friday, June 17, and the electoral umpire said extraction of the candidates’ details would begin on Monday.
INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, while speaking to newsmen said the commission was busy with Ekiti governorship election and has not paid attention to the data submitted by the parties.
Okoye, who is Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, told our reporter: “We are busy with Ekiti election. The (nomination) portal shut down automatically by 6 pm Friday. By Monday, we will begin to extract the details and will paste the particulars in the constituencies of the candidates.”
Among the major political parties fielding candidate for the presidential election, only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has nominated a substantive running mate.
The main opposition party named Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, as the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who emerged as PDP’s presidential candidate in the May 28 and 29 national convention.
Both Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Mr. Peter Obi of Labour Party, submitted ‘place holder’s names, and hoped to use the window provided by the Electoral Act to substitute them with substantive running mate.
INEC had explained that for a presidential or governorship candidate to qualify to be nominated, the list must be accompanied by the name of his or her running mate – “i.e. vice presidential and deputy governorship candidates without which the nomination is invalid.”
Also, there were reports that the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, were in the list of senatorial candidates submitted by the APC, against names of persons, who were declared winners at the party’s congress.
Meanwhile, facts have emerged as why the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, forwarded the name of Dr. Doyin Okupe to INEC, as his running mate.
Okupe, who is director general of Obi’s campaign, is a Christian from South West.
Many Nigerians campaigning for former Anambra State governor to be the next president, expected him to pick a Muslim from the North, as his running mate.
But a source within Labour Party explained that Okupe, “is a stand-in running mate because Obi is still negotiating with other political parties.”
According to him, the Labour Party candidate is hoping to forge an alliance with the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
“Talks are still going on, and it is not wise to nominate a substantive running mate when the discussions have not been concluded.
“Obi’s running mate will come from the North and will be a Muslim. Okupe’s name was sent to beat the INEC’s deadline,” he explained.
The presidential candidate of the NNPP, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, also confirmed that his party was in talks with the Labour Party.
There have been speculations that other opposition political parties, apart from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been speaking to form a third force and wrest power from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In spite of the speculation, many Nigerians were not certain about the development.
But the presidential aspirant of the NNPP has confirmed the development in an interview with the Hausa service of the BBC.
Kwankwaso told the service in an interview that his camp is in talks with Peter Obi and members of the Labour Party over a possible alliance.
Sunday Telegraph also gathered that Kwankwaso and Obi are reportedly exploring the possibility of creating an alliance in collaboration with other parties before the 2023 elections.
The development may have prevented the two parties from naming their substantive vice presidential candidates, instead deciding to go for dummy running mates that can be changed within the 30 days window allowed by the electoral act.
Meanwhile, speaking in the interview, Kwankwaso said family, friends and well wishers were speaking to them about the possibility and are very optimistic about the grand alliance.
He said: “We are talking to Peter Obi. The committee is working to look into the matter (issue of Alliance ), and friends and family are coming to talk to us about it.
“Merging with the Labour Party is very significant at this critical moment, especially looking at the fact that both PDP and APC Presidential candidates did not pick their running mates from the South-East.” He said.
Also, the official handle of the NNPP confirmed the discussion between them and Labour party on Saturday via its Twitter handle.
The NNPP said: “We wish to inform Nigerians that, our discussions with Peter Obi and the Labour Party are still ongoing. The special committee was set to discuss arrangements.
“We hope for good results that will give Nigeria a chance to be alive, once again.” it reads.Telegraph