Political parties on Thursday resorted to a last-minute rush to beat the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) deadline for the submission of a list of candidates for the 2019 general election.
INEC had scheduled the submission of candidates’ names for the presidential and national assembly between October 10 and October 18, and deadline for the governorship and state assemblies election on November 2.
As of 6 pm when NAN correspondents arrived at International Conference Center (ICC), Abuja, venue of the exercise, many party leaders and representatives were just arriving at the place.
Some of the party leaders and candidates who spoke with NAN attributed the delay in submission to the cumbersome process involved in the filling of the forms.
To fast track the submission process, INEC grouped the political parties into seven teams, comprising 13 parties in each group.
Some of the parties’ representatives came into the venue with some of their forms to obtain tally, while still sorting other forms elsewhere, to beat the deadline.
Some were seen using torch lights at the car park to sort their forms before submission.
While the deadline is fixed for Thursday, only political parties who obtain INEC tally before 12 midnight would be allowed to submit their forms.
Yunusa Tanko, presidential candidate and national chairman of the National Conscience Party ( NCP), commended INEC for the arrangement for collection.
Tanko, who was still waiting to submit with tally number 37, said in the past, people needed to hang around INEC office for submission.
He said with the large space now provided, all they needed to do was to get a tally and sit in a hall till when the tally number would be called.
He said the delay in submission was not the fault of INEC or that of the political parties, as they needed to get oath of office from the court for each form.
He said there was a need to increase the number of days for submission since the number of political parties had increased to 91.
Olusegun Mimiko, a presidential candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, who was at the venue with Dan Nwanyanwu, the party’s national chairman, said ZLP got tally 73 as of 5:30 pm.
Mimiko said the party was still within the time and urged INEC to be transparent in the 2019 general election.
He said credible elections were the hallmark of democracy.
Mimiko said he left Labour Party where he first obtained his presidential nomination form because of a legal battle in the party.
Alfa Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said the party was still waiting for submission with tally number 78.
Mohammed said the delay was also due to the distance between the party’s headquarters and its state and local government offices across the country, while some of the conflicts from primaries took time to be resolved.
The submission process was going on smoothly as of 8 pm with the premises still crowded with parties representatives.