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2023: Lawan, Umahi, Akpabio missing as INEC releases names of senatorial candidates




THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday published the particulars of the presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates, and senatorial and House of Representatives candidates for the 2023 elections, with the name of Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, missing from the senatorial list.

Other prominent names missing from the list included those of the Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, and the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.

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In particular, the Yobe North senatorial ticket for the All Progressives Congress (APC) generated controversy after the winner of the party’s primary, Bashir Machina, insisted he would not step down for Lawan, who presently occupies the position.

The senate president, alongside Umahi and Akpabio, had contested for the APC presidential ticket but lost to Bola Tinubu.

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But reports say the Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) forwarded their names to INEC for recognition as the party’s candidates for their various senatorial seats, a development that sparked outrage on the social media.

Adamu had warned Machina over his comments on the party’s senatorial ticket for the district.

Speaking on the development in an interview on BBC Hausa, the APC chairman said the issues affecting the party in primaries were not unusual and would be resolved.

The APC listed Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi as candidates for Yobe North, Akwa Ibom North-west, and Ebonyi South senatorial districts, respectively.

In Akwa Ibom, the APC senatorial primary election had held on May 27, 2023, with Udom Ekpoudom, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, emerging as the candidate.

But the APC allegedly dumped Ekpoudom and allowed a fresh primary that produced Akpabio.

Umahi also reportedly had a primary election that produced his brother, which was allegedly cancelled for a fresh one, but which INEC did not recognize.

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ThisDay Newspaper claimed it saw a certified true copy (CTC) of the report of the INEC team sent to monitor the Yobe North APC senatorial primary election.

The CTC, signed by Omale Samuel and dated May 28, 2022, showed that Machina polled 289 votes out of 300 delegates at the exercise.

Also, another report from the Yobe State office of INEC on the conduct of the election showed that the exercise was held at the Government House in Gashua, the headquarters of Bade local government area of the state.

INEC, according to the newspaper, confirmed in the CTC that Machina won the election.

Machina has insisted that he won the primary and remained the APC candidate for the Yobe North senatorial district in the 2023 National Assembly election.

Adamu had submitted Lawan’s name as the candidate of the APC for the Yobe North senatorial election slated for February 2023 to the INEC.

Machina, however, had to take the necessary legal steps to stop INEC from publishing Lawan’s name as the APC candidate.

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INEC had consistently maintained that it lacked the powers to pick a candidate in an election, even though its authentication was necessary to certify that an election was held.

Meanwhile, speaking on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ on Friday, June 24, 2022, the INEC National Electoral Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, explained why some of the names submitted by the political parties were missing from the list published by the commission.

Okoye said the commission was not obligated to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there were questions about the validity of primaries featuring such candidates.

He said, “If you look at section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022, Section 29 says ‘every political party shall not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act submit to the commission in the prescribed forms, the list of the candidates they are proposing to support at the election, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political parties.’

“The commission does not submit the list of candidates. It is the political parties themselves that have been given the locus to submit this particular list, and in this case, there is no personal interference between the commission and the political parties.

“We open the portal — what we called ‘candidate nomination portal’ — and we give an access code to the national chairman of each of the political parties that conducted primaries with which they upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates.

“So, if a political party has uploaded the list and personal particulars of a candidate that did not emerge from valid party primary, INEC is not under a constitutional and legal obligation to publish the particulars of such a candidate.”

The INEC spokesperson added that a candidate validly nominated at the primary, but whose name was excluded by the party, could seek redress from a competent court.

According to reports, Machina’s name was also not listed by INEC for the elections.

Reacting to it, Okoye said the list published yesterday was not the final document for the 2023 polls, adding that the final list would be published in September 2022.

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