The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said empathically that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has no senatorial candidate for Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West districts for the 2023 elections.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye said this on Sunday in an interview on Channels Television said the commission decided to exclude the names of Senate President Ahmad Lawan and former Governor Godswill Akpabio from the candidates’ list because they were not nominated from validly-conducted primaries.
In June, INEC had excluded Lawan and Akpabio, also former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, from the list of Senatorial candidates. Lawan, who has represented Yobe North district in the Senate since 2007, while Akpabio represented Akwa Ibom North West district in the Senate between 2015 and 2019.
Both contested in APC presidential primary in June and lost. Upon their failure, they returned to their respective senatorial districts to battle for the party ticket in next year’s election.
APC submitted the names of Lawan and Akpabio as senatorial candidates, despite the controversy that surrounded the primaries involving the duo in their districts.
An online report had recently claimed that INEC had “backdated” the certified true copies of its report on the APC primaries to accommodate some aspirants. But the electoral commission immediately dismissed that assertion.
On Sunday, Okoye said INEC decided to exclude Lawan and Akpabio from the candidates’ list because they were not nominated from validly-conducted primaries.
The INEC spokesperson added that any political party that nominates candidates who were not elected at validly-conducted primaries will not contest in the elections.
“The commission has made it very clear that under Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act, it is the responsibility to forward to INEC the list and personal particulars of their members who emerged from validly-conducted party primaries.
“In these two constituencies, two names were forwarded and the commission made a determination that the names were not persons who emerged from validly-conducted party primaries and we did not publish their names. That is where we are.
“So, the commission will not go out of its way to plead with a political party to forward the name of a candidate that emerged from a validly-conducted primary.
“If a political party does not forward the name of the candidate that emerged from a validly-conducted primary, the implication is that the political party will not have the candidate in the election for that particular constituency and that is just the law.
“The commission did not publish their names and their particulars in their constituencies. So, the implication is that as of today, the APC does not have candidates in those two constituencies”.
INEC had initially confirmed Bashir Sheriff Machina as the Yobe North senatorial candidate of the APC in the 2023 elections, while former House of Representatives member, Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo won the INEC-supervised party primary for Akwa Ibom North West district.
But the party chose to submit the names of Lawan and Akpabio instead, claiming that their were another primaries after both politicians had lost in the presidential primary.