Ahead of the September 19 Governorship election in Edo state, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has expressed concerns over the visibility of the campaign councils of political parties as opposed to having candidates and their party manifestoes taking the centre stage during electioneering.
INEC expressed its reservations in a statement issued Thursday in Abuja and signed by a National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye.
He said; “Fourteen political parties conducted primaries and nominated their candidates for the Edo Governorship election holding on Saturday 19th September 2020. Going by the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election, campaign by political parties in public commenced on 21st June 2020 and ends on 17th September 2010 i.e. 24 hours before polling day as enshrined in Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“Political parties are hereby reminded that in canvassing for votes, they must comply with the Commission’s policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as the Regulations and Guidelines governing same. They must also comply with the guidelines issued by health authorities.
“At the same time, parties are enjoined to conduct issue-based campaigns in accordance with the Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Commission. They should appeal to their supporters to shun inflammatory rhetoric and disruptive behaviour capable of breaching the peace. The election is an opportunity for the people of Edo State to choose among the 14 candidates in the contest. The Commission is concerned that as campaigns begin, campaign councils rather than candidates and party manifestoes are taking centre stage. The election should be a contest of ideas and programmes for the people of Edo to make informed decisions for the development of their State”.
Both the Governorship campaign councils of the All Progressives Congress APC and that of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP have been up in arms since they were inaugurated this week.
While Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state who is heading the APC campaign council has said the party would isolate Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and conclude the polls, Wike who heads the PDP campaign council has said he does not operate on the same level with his Kano State counterpart and that Dr Ganduje’s money would not secure the APC victory in Edo.