By Olusegun Olanrewaju (Lagos), Ben Ogbemudia and David Lawani (Abuja)
As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the final list of contestants for national executive and legislative elections yesterday, the Zonal Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) announced its resolve to henceforth resist any action capable of deepening and/or widening the crises of confidence amongst leaders of the party in the zone.
The commission, at its regular weekly meeting held yesterday, said it had approved the final list of candidates for national elections (presidential, senatorial, and federal constituencies) according to Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and item 8 of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 general election.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, in a statement, disclosed that the list for specific constituencies is published in each state where they are located, while the comprehensive nationwide list had been uploaded to the commission’s website.
It said that the governorship and state houses of assembly will be published on October 4.
Announcing the list for the National Assembly elections yesterday, INEC disclosed that 1,101 candidates would be vying for 109 senatorial seats and 3,122 candidates for the Federal Constituencies i.e. House of Representatives seats, making a total of 4,223 candidates contesting for 469 legislative positions.
The commission also restated that the list of candidates it had published so far, starting from yesterday, was those for national election of those that have been validly elected at the close of party’s primaries conducted by political parties.
Meanwhile, as part of the trouble-staving process in its ranks, the South-South caucus of the leading opposition party stated that it would no longer condone actions capable of festering crises in its troubled fold.
In a communique issued by the zonal organising secretary of the party, Ekom Akonjom, the party leaders said they are worried by the unending crises in the party since the presidential primaries.
In appreciation of the need for unity and cohesion, particularly in the build-up to the 2023 general elections, the Zonal Working Committee (ZWC) said it welcomes the idea of a National Zonal Consultative Tour.
The ZWC, however, said it noted, with grave concern, the fact that the consultative tour to the South-South Zone had regrettably been without justification, planned to hold outside the zonal headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
This, they resolved, is not acceptable to the party’s leadership in the zone “as it is capable of further dividing leaders of the party in the zone”.
It added, “To this end, the Zonal Working Committee further resolves that the Consultative Tour of the Party should be held at the zonal headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“It is to be noted that holding any such meeting outside the zonal headquarters will aggravate issues and not achieve the desired move for reconciliation, peace, and unity in the party.
“Further to the above, the Zonal Working Committee notes that under Section 31 (2) (d) of the party’s constitution 2017 (As amended), all organs of the party are expected to function democratically.
“To this end, it should be noted that holding the South-South Zonal Consultative Tour anywhere outside the zonal headquarters will amount to a breach of Section 31 (2) (d) of the party’s constitution, and the Zonal Working Committee will not be a party to any breach of the party’s rules, let alone its constitution.”
The communique added, “The Zonal Working Committee resolves to, henceforth, resist any action capable of deepening and; or widening the crises of confidence amongst leaders of the party in the zone,” the South-South EXCO said in warning over the PDP crisis.
Meanwhile, the national vice-chairman of the PDP, South-South, Dan Orbih, has said the final publication of candidates’ lists by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a sign of victory for the party.
INEC yesterday officially recognised state and National Assembly candidates produced by the PDP faction in Edo State led by Orbih.
The battle between Dan Orbih and Governor Godwin Obaseki led to parallel primaries in May this year, and it has also resulted in litigations and judgments in different courts.
A visit by ThisNigeria to INEC headquarters in Benin, showed clearly that the list of candidates displayed on the commission’s public notice board indicated that they are the ones who emerged winners at the primaries conducted by the Orbih’s faction.
The INEC, in the published list, remarked that its action was a result of an order by the court.
The state deputy chairman of the party, Harrison Omagbon, in his response, said the development has put paid to the recent presentation of certificates by the state chairman of the party to candidates of Governor Obaseki faction of the party.
Meanwhile, as the electoral commission announced its list yesterday, it was a mixed bag on the fortunes of some candidates.
Controversies are yet to erupt over the presidential and running mate list, but in the National Assembly cadre, especially senatorial, it was a mixed bag of fortunes for some governors and ex-governors in the states who are angling to further their careers in the Upper Chamber.
In a statement yesterday, the electoral umpire said it had approved the final list of candidates “under section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and item 8 of the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election”.
In Akwa Ibom State, where the former state governor, Godswill Akpabio, who later became a minister and senator, has been embroiled in issues relating to certification, it was an eventual victory as he made the senatorial candidacy list.
Akpabio, 59, a lawyer, now the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, for which he was appointed to the President Muhammadu Buhari regime in 2019, will be contesting again for the Akwa Ibom North West senatorial poll next year on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). He is contesting courtesy of a court order.
The same with Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, whose case has been on a cliffhanger over ticketing issues, also made the list.
Fifty-nine-year-old Umahi, an engineer, according to INEC, became successful, also courtesy of a court order. If he eventually gets elected on the platform of the APC, it would be his first time as a lawmaker in the centre.
However, in Edo State, it was a sad case for Governor Godwin Obaseki, whose name is conspicuously missing from the INEC list of successful candidates.
In the governor’s place, the INEC list recognised the candidate of Obaseki’s fierce political foe, Dan Orbih, who leads a strong faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Meanwhile, there have been mixed reactions in the state chapter of the PDP over yesterday’s announcement by INEC.
There was confusion as the commission released the list of candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives election in Edo State, which produced all the candidates that emerged from the factional primary elections conducted by the leadership loyal to the National Vice Chairman of the PDP in the South-South, Orbih.
And for the All Progressives Congress (APC), all its candidates who emerged at the primary elections, including former national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, for Edo North senatorial district and deputy majority leader of the House of Representatives for Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency, Peter Akpatason, whose names were also displayed.
Crisis-ridden PDP held its primaries nationwide in May this year, but in Edo State, both factions held parallel primaries and consequently produced candidates for different elective positions at both ends.
The 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. The issues are currently before the Supreme Court.
Reacting to INEC’s announcement yesterday, state chairman of the PDP, Tony Azeigbemi, said issues were still in court and that the candidates would exhaust all available legal means to win.
From the list pasted, the INEC lists of the PDP were based on a court order.
Azeigbemi said, “I am sure you know that court cases are pending. INEC is obeying the court order by publishing these names, but until the candidates exhaust all their cases in court, there cannot be a final opinion on this. Until all the parties exhaust their cases in court, we are PDP and we will wait for the final judgment, so there is nothing much.”
On his part, the candidate for Egor/Ikpoba-Okha federal constituency, Nosa Adams, said it was a victory for the party.
“It is a situation of victory for the PDP for me, it is a situation of no victor, no vanquished. All I am concerned about is how we can win the elections for PDP. Our target is for our party to win the elections; produce the president, the members of the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Nobody has been defeated, truly PDP has won because, in the PDP, we believe in the rule of law, which is the beacon of any democracy. All of us should be prepared to go for the election and win for PDP.”
In Yobe North senatorial district, there is no senatorial candidate listed for the APC because there has been some controversy over the APC senatorial ticket, and the matter is currently in court.