24 hours to campaigns kick-off: INEC warns against abusive, intemperate, slanderous language




INEC chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

Ahead of the September 28 date for the commencement of campaigns and 152 days to 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Monday said preparations for the conduct of the 2023 general elections have reached an advanced and critical stage.

The commission said, “as of today, the commission has undertaken 8 out of the 14 items on the calendar and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 general election.” 

INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu said this at a two-day workshop for INEC Press Corps in Lagos.

Represented by National Commissioner Festus Okoye, he said: “On 20th September 2022, the commission released the final list of candidates standing nominated for national elections (Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, Senatorial and House of Representative Candidates). 

“On 4th October 2022, the Commission will release the final list of candidates standing nominated in relation to State Elections (Governorship, Deputy Governorship and State Assemblies). 

 “On 28th September 2022 Presidential and National Assembly campaigns will start while that of Governorship and State Assembly candidates will start on 12th October 2022. 

“The Commission will continue to adhere to set timelines in carrying out its activities.”

The commission, therefore, urged the “18 registered political parties to critically study and pay attention to the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Police Act and the Public Order Act for the proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions.”

On the responsibility of the media, Yakubu cautioned that “a political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings. 

“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns. 

“Let me also remind the media of their constitutional and legal obligations. State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election. In other words, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties by all public print and electronic media organisations. 

“The same applies in equal measure to private owned media organizations subject to payment of appropriate fees. The Commission is conscious that a credible voter register is the basic requirement for the conduct of a credible election.” 

INEC also said it had “devoted time and energy to the cleaning up of the voter register using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS). This process is almost finalized and the Commission will engage with stakeholders relating to its findings before displaying the register for claims and objections as required by law.” 

He urged “the media, especially the INEC Press Corps, to have a good knowledge and understanding of the workings and operations of the Commission. 

“This is necessary for an informed and balanced coverage of the Commission’s activities and the dissemination of information to the general public. 

“The commission is conscious of the critical role of the media in our political and electoral process and believes that democracy will only grow and flourish through adherence by the media to professional and ethical standards. Indeed, true democracy cannot exist without effective information flow. 

“Basically, and as established over time, the role of the media, especially the INEC Press Corps in the electoral process is to: Avail the stakeholders timely and relevant information pertaining to the electoral process; Carry out voter education and public enlightenment; 

“Mobilise the electorate to participate in the electoral process through awakening in them the consciousness of taking ownership of the political process;

“Give vent, visibility and life to the programmes and activities of the Election Management Body with a view updating stakeholders on the developments in the electoral process;

“Publicize information and activities of political parties and candidates, with a view to assisting the electorate make informed decisions and choices; and ensure through their searchlight and reports that the process and rules of engagement in the electoral system as codified in the electoral legal framework are duly complied with and adhered to. As first-hand witnesses to the activities of the commission, the INEC Press Corp is supposed to be the repository of electoral information in Nigeria.”

This, Yakubu said, “places them in an advantageous position to play a critical role in shaping the opinions and editorial policies of their media organizations on issues relating to the programmes and policies of the Commission. 

“The implication of this is that the INEC Press Corps must be familiar with the constitutional mandate of the commission and the roles and powers ascribed to it. 

He urged “the INEC Press Corps “to strive to understand the intendment and nuances of the powers granted to the commission by the Constitution and the Electoral Act that are expressed in subsidiary legislations including the Commission’s Regulations, Guidelines and Manuals.”

 APC campaign council

In a related development, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Council (PCC) has assured governors elected on the party’s platform that it never jettisoned the names submitted by them.

 The council made the clarification following reports that Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), the umbrella body of the governors elected on APC platform, were ready to sabotage the party and its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for disregarding their nominations. 

Making the clarification in a statement Monday in Abuja, the PCC’s Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, said the list of members of the campaign council released at the weekend was a partial list.

He said: “The Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress hereby clarifies that the list of members of the campaign council released at the weekend, is a partial list.

“It contains only the directors, deputy directors, secretaries of directorates and key stakeholders. 

“The council also assures our esteemed governors that the secretariat of the council has not jettisoned the names submitted by them.”

The council said some of the nominees of the governors emerged as part of the leadership, while others would soon emerge as members of the various directorates. 

The statement quoted the Secretary of PCC, Hon. James Faleke, to have said “no name is left out of the lists.”

On Nnamani… 

The council also stated categorically that the inclusion of the name of former governor of Enugu state, and a Senator representing Enugu South in the Senate, Chimaroke Nnamani, was not a mistake.

It added: “The PCC will also want to clarify that the appearance of the name of HE Chimaroke Nnamani, a distinguished senator from Enugu State, was not a mistake.

“He is on the list in his own right as a supporter of our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Distinguished Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, who is still away in the United States, is a very close friend of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

The council stressed that he might not be on the field with them  as a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) senatorial candidate, but his presence was indicative that he might have chosen to give  ‘moral support’  to his old-time friend and brother.

“In any case, the PCC cannot dictate the extent of Senator Nnamani’s support for his friend and brother. That is part of his fundamental human right which supersedes any provision in a Party Constitution. His position and allegiance to his party is self-defining and does not need any qualification by us. 

 “Any explanation as to his status should be coming from the other party and not from us who are very proud to be associated with him.”

Atiku names Saraki, Anyim advisers

Also, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has appointed the immediate past Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Special Envoy and former Senate President, Senator Pius Anyim, as Special Adviser.

Atiku in a statement Monday by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, said the key appointments of Special Advisers were aimed at strengthening his presidential campaign team.

PDP has slated Wednesday, 28 September, 2023 for the inauguration of its National Campaign Management Committee and Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), headed by Sokoto state Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Akwa Ibo state Governor Udom Emmanuel respectively.

“Also appointed as Special Advisers to the candidate are former governor of Kano State, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Senator Ehigie Uzamere.

“Former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus was also appointed as Technical Adviser to the presidential candidate. 

“The appointments are to take immediate effect. Atiku Abubakar charged the appointees to use their vast political experiences in ensuring that the PDP presidential campaign records resounding success in the 2023 election,” the statement said.

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