The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday released the final list of presidential and National Assembly candidates that would participate in the forthcoming general elections.
However, the governorship and National Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers and Zamfara states were missing on the list.
Findings from the lists signed by the Secretary of INEC, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, revealed that the Social Democratic Party did not have any presidential and vice-presidential candidates on the list.
This, INEC said, was due to the court order which sacked a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, as the SDP presidential candidate of the party.
The only comment written in front of the SDP was, “Court order. Party yet to submit name of candidate.”
Also, a Federal High Court in Abuja had stopped the APC from presenting candidates in Rivers and Zamfara following the inability of the party to resolve its internal crises on the conduct of its primaries.
Despite the endorsement of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, by the Coalition of United Political Parties, the names of their presidential candidates and running mates were still on the list.
Female candidates in both the presidential and vice-presidential categories stood at 26, while the People Living With Disabilities were not represented.
The academic qualifications of the candidates were also displayed.
The presidential candidate of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, submitted a First School Leaving Certificate, West African School Certificate and a certificate simply written as “CDT.”
The implication of non-inclusion of the APC candidates on the list is that the party would not partake in the next month’s federal legislative elections in Zamfara and Rivers.
This implies that the three senatorial seats and seven House of Representatives seats in the two states which are currently being occupied by the APC, will be lost come February.
INEC said the decision was hinged on the fact that the APC failed to conduct primaries for the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections, adding that the October 7, 2018 deadline had lapsed.
The Zamfara APC had been engulfed in a serious crisis in recent time as parallel primaries had been held by factions of the party, none of which was monitored by INEC.
After a long wait by journalists on Thursday, INEC in Rivers State finally released the list of presidential, senatorial and House of Representatives’ candidates. While the list contained candidates of parties including the PDP, Accord Party, Labour Party, SDP and Green Party of Nigeria, those of the state APC were conspicuously missing.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Effanga, said the decision to exclude the APC candidates was in line with a court order that directed the electoral umpire to do so.
But the two factions of the Rivers State APC have assured their members that their candidates will contest the 2019 general elections.
Mr. Chris Finebone, the Publicity Secretary of the Rivers State APC loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Peter Odike, the factional Chairman of the Magnus Abe-led APC, in separate interviews with one of our correspondents, urged their members to be calm, insisting that the party at the state level would contest the forthcoming elections.
Odike said, “We are winning our appeal and after the appeal, INEC will come out with another list and publish it. Time is not against it because 30th (of January) is the last day.”
Finebone said the ruling of the Appeal Court, which confirmed the nullification of congresses held by the party, would not affect his party chances of contesting in the general elections.
“I am not worried about time; the court is aware of the need for time. So, they will be expeditious with it. We are hopeful that they (court) will do the needful within the time. We are hopeful that at the end, INEC will publish a list with our candidates,” he said.