The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday released the final list of candidates for national elections, namely presidential, senatorial and federal constituencies, in line with the 2023 elections timetable earlier released in the year.
INEC, which confirmed this in a statement by the National Commissioner in Charge of Voters’ Education, Festus Okoye, also posted the list on its website.
The list contained 36 presidential candidates and the running mates of 18 political parties. Also, a total of 4,223 candidates will battle for 469 legislative positions (senatorial and federal constituencies) at the federal level.
The commissioner, however, said the final list of candidates for state elections (governorship and state constituencies) would be published on October 4, 2022, as indicated in the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections.
Okoye also noted that the commission also received litigation during the period of compiling the final list.
The statement partly read, “At its regular weekly meeting held today, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 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.’’
Speaking further in the statement, Okoye noted that the list that was published by the commission contained the names of individuals who were validly nominated by their parties.
He said, “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 October 4, 2022, as already indicated on the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election.
“In summary, all 18 political parties have fielded candidates and their running mates for the presidential election. For legislative elections, 1,101 candidates are vying for 109 Senate seats and 3,122 candidates are vying for House of Representatives seats, making a total of 4,223 candidates contesting for 469 legislative positions. In terms of gender distribution, 3,875 candidates are male, made up of 35 for President and Vice President, 1,008 for the Senate, and 2,832 for the House of Representatives. Similarly, 381 females, comprising 1 for the Presidency, 92 for the Senate, and 288 for the House of Representatives, are contesting. There are also 11 people with disabilities in the race.’’
Okoye further noted, “The list for specific constituencies is published in each state where they are located while the comprehensive nationwide list has been uploaded to the commission’s website.
“We appeal 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.”
The list showed that the commission approved the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and his running mate, Kashim Shettima; the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa; and the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and running mate, Dati Baba-Ahmed.
Aside from the six presidential and vice presidential candidates from the three parties, INEC approved 30 other presidential and VP candidates from 15 other political parties.
According to the list, these include Accord Party presidential candidate, Imumolen Christopher, and the VP candidate, Bello Maru; Action Alliance presidential candidate, Almustapha Hamza, and his running mate, Johnson Chukwuka.
Others are the African Action Congress presidential candidate, Sowore Omoyele, and the VP candidate, Magashi Garba; African Democratic Congress presidential candidate, Kachikwu Dumebi, and his running mate, Buhari Ahmed; Action Democratic Party presidential candidate, Sani Yusuf and his running mate, Udo Okor; All Progressives Grand Alliance presidential candidate, Umeadi Chukwudi, and his VP candidate, Mohammed Koli; and Allied Peoples Movement presidential candidate, Ojei Chichi, and the VP candidate, Ibrahim Mohammed.
The list also includes the All People’s Party with Nnadi Osita and Hamisu Isa; the Boost Party with Adenuga Oluwafemi and Mustapha Turaki; the New Nigeria Peoples Party with Rabiu Kwankwaso and Idahosa Isaac; the National Rescue Mission’s Osakwe Johnson and Kyabo Muhammad; the Peoples Redemption Party’s Abiola Kolawole and Zego Haruna.
Others are the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Adebayo Adewole Ebenezer, and the VP candidate, Buhari Yusuf; the presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party, Ado-Ibrahim Abdulmalik, and the VP candidate Enyinna Michael Kasarachi; the presidential candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, Nwanyanwu Daniel, and the VP candidate, Abubakar Jibrin.
Bayelsa’s Senatorial seats
Meanwhile, a total of 30 candidates will contest for the three senatorial seats of Bayelsa State on the platforms of their political parties in the forthcoming 2023 National Assembly election.
This is according to an official list of cleared senatorial candidates for Bayelsa made available to journalists by the Head of Voter Education and Publicity at the Yenagoa office of the Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday.
A gender breakdown of the total number showed that the list is made up of three female candidates and 27 male candidates.
The females include Accord Party’s Suoteigha George and Ewa Happiness for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa East, respectively, and Mohammed Tombra of the Young Progressives Party for Bayelsa West.
Obaseki’s faction loses
Notably, INEC has recognised in the released list of candidates produced by the Peoples Democratic Party faction in Edo State, led by the Vice Chairman, South-South, Chief Dan Orbih, from the party primaries held in May.
There had been confusion in Edo State as Governor Godwin Obaseki and Chief Dan Orbih’s factions held parallel primaries that produced candidates for different elective positions, which pitched the two factions in a supremacy battle. It also resulted in litigation and judgments from different courts.
Our correspondent’s visit to the INEC headquarters in Benin on Tuesday showed that the list of candidates displayed on the commission’s notice board had the names of candidates loyal to Orbih.
The INEC in the published list stated that its action was based on the order of the court.
In his reaction, PDP State Chairman, Dr Tony Aziegbemi, urged members of the Obaseki’s faction of the party to remain calm and await the final court decision on the matter.
Azeigbemi said, “I am sure you know that there are court cases 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.”
Akpabio makes list
The PUNCH also observes that neither the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, nor the APC senatorial ticket winner for Yobe North, Bashir Machina made the list.
The PUNCH reports that Machina and Lawan had been engaged in a tussle.
Machina had won the ticket after polling 289 votes in the primary election, which was duly observed by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the APC had submitted Lawan’s name as the candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial Zone for 2023, prompting Machina to seek legal redress.
Meanwhile, the commission recognised the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio as the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial candidate under the APC.
Akpabio, like Lawan, ran in the APC presidential primaries, where he was defeated by Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The PUNCH previously reported that a Federal High Court in Abuja had ordered INEC to accept and publish Godswill Akpabio’s name as the All Progressives Congress candidate for the Akwa Ibom North-West District in the 2023 elections after the commission refused to recognise Akpabio as a candidate because the commission did not monitor the APC primary, which he claimed to have won.
INEC clarifies issues
Meanwhile, INEC has noted that it was compelled by the court to display the names of a former minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi; Ogbede Omoregie (PDP, Edo South); Ugbome Pascal (PDP, Edo North); Onolemenmen Ozeigbe (PDP Edo Central); and Rimantari Joshua (Labour Party, Taraba South) as senatorial candidates.
This was made known in the remarks section published alongside the final list of candidates for the 2023 presidential, senatorial, and House of Representatives candidates.
However, The PUNCH reports that factions of the PDP in Edo State have continued to claim the authenticity of their faction’s candidates while they await the Supreme Court’s ruling on issues.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court 5, Abuja, had in an earlier judgement in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/808/2022 issued an order directing INEC to only accept and recognise the candidates that emerged from the Dan Orbih faction on May 18.
Similarly, in Ebonyi State, Governor Dave Umahi was earlier omitted from the list of candidates released earlier in June following the controversy that trailed his emergence as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the election.
The governor had contested for the presidential primary of the party, which he lost to Bola Tinubu, while his younger brother, Austin Umahi, won the Ebonyi South senatorial primary of the party in May.
However, after the primaries, the younger Umahi stepped down for the governor, leading to a rerun primary, which the governor contested unopposed but the commission refused to list his name as the candidate and instead chose to leave the position vacant.
This led to the governor suing INEC at the federal high court, seeking to compel the electoral body to accept his name as a candidate of the party.
But, the runner-up to the first primary, Ann Agom-Eze joined the suit and urged the court to recognise her as the candidate of the party.
In his ruling, Justice Fatun Riman, in his ruling, however, ordered another primary, with Mrs Agom Eze and any other interested fresh candidates allowed to take part.
Agom-Eze, not satisfied with the ruling, appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Enugu and filed for a stay of execution.
Consequently, the APC in Ebonyi obtained an order from the federal high court to go ahead with the primary, which Umahi won even as the matter at the appeal court is still on.