The Independent National Electoral Commission has postponed the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, earlier fixed for November 2 by two weeks.
While announcing November 16 as the new date for the elections, the commission said the timelines for all other activities leading to the elections had also been adjusted to align with the new date.
“The run-off election to the office of governor of a state (if any)will be held within 21 days after the announcement of result of the election in accordance with Section 179 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended – 4th Alteration).
“This timetable and schedule of activities supersede the one issued on April 9 2019,” the electoral body said in a notice signed by its Secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, and made available to journalists on Thursday.
The decision to change the date of the elections came barely 48 hours after the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, John Jonah, led stakeholders from the state on a courtesy visit to the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, demanding an adjustment in date of the election.
Jonah had hinged the demand for adjustment in the date on the fact that the date early fixed for the election clashed with the state annual thanksgiving day.
A statement by INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the decision was taken “after a careful consideration of the appeals” during the commission’s regular weekly meeting held on Thursday.
He said, “It will be recalled that on April 9, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections. The commission fixed November 2 for the elections to hold in both states.
“However, the commission has received several appeals from the government, state Assembly, elders, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders in Bayelsa State that the election date coincides with the state’s annual thanksgiving day which is backed by the Bayelsa State Thanksgiving Day Law 2012.
“After careful consideration of the appeals. the commission at its regular weekly meeting held on Thursday, May 16 decided to shift the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states to Saturday, November 16, 2017.
“The timelines for all other activities leading to the elections have also been adjusted to align with the new date.”
The PUNCH reported that the tenure of the governor of Kogi State would elapse on January 26, 2020 , while the tenure of the governor of Bayelsa State would expire on February 13, 2020.
INEC said, “Pursuant to the provision of Section 178(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 (7) and (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the earliest date for the election into the office of governor, Kogi State shall be August 31, 2019, and the latest date for election shall be December 28 2019.
“For Bayelsa State, the earliest date for election to the office of governor shall be September 17 2019, while the latest date shall be January 15 2020. By virtue of Section 178(2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), election into the office of a state governor shall hold not later than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder.
“The commission is, by virtue of Section 30(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), expected to issue notice for the election not later than 90 days before the date of the election.”
According to Oriaran-Anthony, the notice of election and collection of Forms CF001, CF002 by political parties has been fixed for August 17 and 18, 2019, at INEC headquarters.
Similarly, the conduct of party primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries would take place between August 18 and September 5, 2019, to enable political parties to nominate their candidates for the election.
The campaigns by political parties would commence on August 18 in line with Section 99(1)of the Electoral Act, 2010, which provides 90 days before Election Day.
While September 9 is the last day for the submission of Forms CF001 and CF002, the publication of particulars of candidates (CF001) and the list of candidates has been fixed for September 16.
The last day of withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by political parties will be September 23, while October 2 is the last day for the submission of nomination forms by political parties.
Also, the publication of official register of voters will be on October 3, while the final list of nominated candidates would be published on October 17.
Also, on November 2, INEC will publish the notice of election while same day will be last day for the submission of names of polling agents for the election to the electoral officer.
The commission also fixed November 14 as the last day for campaigns by political parties.