From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja, Tony Osauzo, Benin, Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki and Paul Osuyi, Asaba

Candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu and the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi as well as 15 others have been cleared to contest the presidential poll in 2023.

This is as 4,223 candidates would vie for the 469 National Assembly positions across the 36 states, a statement by Mr. Festus Okoye, national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said yesterday.

A breakdown showed that 18 political parties are fielding presidential candidates, 1,101 candidates would batttle for 109 senatorial seats and 3,122 candidates for federal constituencies (House of Representatives) seats.

Gender distribution showed that 3,875 candidates are male, made up of 35 for presidential and vice presidential, 1,008 for Senate and 2,832 for House of Representatives. Similarly, 381 females comprising one for presidential, 92 for Senate, and 288 for House of Representatives. There are also 11 Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the race.

While Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, former minister, Goodwill Akpabio and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal are among those that made the Senate list,Senate President, Ahmad Lawan’s bid to snatch the Yobe North ticket from Bashir Machina, proved abortive. Umahi edged out Ann Agom-Eze, his archrival, to clinch the APC slot  for Ebonyi South Senatorial District

The camp of the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, also lost out as INEC recognised candidates produced by the PDP faction led by the Vice Chairman, South-South, Chief Dan Orbih. Both Governor Godwin Obaseki and Chief Orbih’s factions held parallel primaries and consequently produced candidates for different elective positions at both ends, pitching the two factions in a supremacy battle.

Parallel primaries held in the state and the consequent emergence of winners at both ends for different elective positions resulted in litigations and judgments from different courts.

At INEC headquarters in Benin, yesterday afternoon, it was observed that the list of candidates displayed on the public notice board indicated that they were the ones who emerged winners at the primaries conducted by the Orbih’s faction.

The INEC in the published list remarked that its action followed order of the court.

The state Deputy Chairman of the party,  Harrison Omagbon, said the development has put paid to the recent presentation of certificates by the state chairman of the party to candidates of Governor Obaseki’s faction. But the chairman, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, urged members of the Obaseki’s faction to remain calm and await the final court decision on the matter.

Okoye said the Commission approved the final list of candidates for national elections (Presidential, Senatorial and Federal Constituencies) pursuant to section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and item 8 of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election at its regular weekly meeting held yesterday.

Section 32 (1) of the Electoral Act provides that names of candidates sponsored by political parties shall be published 150 days before the election.

INEC said he list for specific constituencies was on display in each state where they were located while the comprehensive nationwide list has been uploaded to the Commission’s website and appealed to all political parties to channel any observations on the list of candidates to the Commission and such must be signed by the National Chairman and Secretary of the political party and supported with an affidavit as provided in section 32(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The statement further read: “The publication of the full names and addresses of all nominated candidates follows the political parties’ conduct of primaries and completion of the nomination exercise. Nigerians may recall that at end of the process, the personal particulars of all nominated candidates were displayed in their constituencies nationwide as provided by section 29(3) of the Electoral Act.

“Subsequently, validly nominated candidates had the opportunity to voluntarily withdraw their candidature by notice in writing and personally deliver such notice to the political party that nominated them for the election. Thereafter, political parties substituted such candidates under section 31 of the Electoral Act for which the last day was 15th July 2022 for national elections and 12th August 2022 for State elections as clearly provided in item 6 of the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities. Thereafter, no withdrawal or substitution of candidates is allowed except in the event of death as provided in section 34(1) of the Electoral Act or pursuant to an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction.

“The list published today contains the names of candidates validly nominated for national elections at the close of party primaries and the period earmarked for withdrawal and substitution of candidates. The final list of candidates for State elections (Governorship and State Constituencies) will be published on 4th October 2022 as already indicated on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.

“We note the fact that not all the political parties conducted primaries in all the constituencies, submitted the particulars of candidates that emerged from valid primaries or substituted their candidates after fresh primaries within 14 days as provided in section 33 of the Electoral Act. This has led to numerous litigations, some of which are ongoing. Where the Commission was served with Court orders by aggrieved aspirants or candidates before the publication of this list, these have been indicated under the remark column.”

The final list of candidates for state elections (governorship and state constituencies) would be published on October 4.

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Source: news