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LAGOS. NIGERIA.     Sunday, December 22 2002

 

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Parties Reject INEC Time-table For Elections
From John Abba Ogbodo, Abuja

THE time table for the 2003 elections released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been rejected by the 30 political parties.

The National Chairman of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja also hinted that the party will not accept the candidature of Daniel Kanu who won the PDP primaries for the House of Representatives in Abuja Municipal. Speaking on the INEC timetable, Ogbeh who said he was speaking the minds of the other political parties, specifically pointed out that the parties are not comfortable with the January 4, 2003 date for submission of list of candidates.

The PDP national chairman explained that it would not be convenient for any of the political parties to have list of candidates ready by that date.

He therefore appealed for an extension of at least, one month. Ogbeh equally called on INEC to take the law to the National Assembly for amendment.

"We are not happy with the submission of list on January 4, 2003. It is not convenient for us and I am sure it is not convenient for any political party to have all the lists of their candidate by January 4, 2003. PDP therefore appeals to INEC to shift that date by at least, one month," he said.

He continued: "I think I am speaking the minds of the political parties because January 4 is not feasible. So, let INEC take steps to send an amendment to the National Assembly to remove the 90 days mandatory time for the submission of the list to allow all political parities time to have all their candidates properly submitted. The new electoral law states that the screening will be done by the parties and not INEC."

Ogbeh categorically said that the party will not allow the candidature of former chairman of the defunct Youths Earnestly Ask For Abacha (YEAA), Daniel Kanu for the House of Representatives in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) because of his antecedents.

Kanu was announced winner of the Abuja Federal House of Representatives primaries. The national chairman further explained that as a credible party, PDP owes the society a sense of responsibility to present leaders with clean records.

He said there were reports that the certificate he presented could not be verified, stressing that there were doubts about the screening process.

His words: "We have heard about it. First, there is some doubt about the quality of screening that was carried out because we were informed that his certificates were not exactly verifiable as he claimed. But over and above that, I must say that we (PDP) will not be ready to accept him as our candidate for the House of Representatives purely on the ground of certain antecedent of his which is not clear.

"We took the same position on Chief Omisore sometime ago and we were categorical about it on the ground of certain antecedents. We will not be able to present him (Kanu) as our candidate for the House of Representatives. He may wish to find some other political parties," he said.

Speaking on the non-incumbent gubernatorial aspirant who took the party to court and their subsequent suspension by the party, the national chairman, while threatening that "any of such rascality will be dealt with," expressed dismay that the court is getting involved in politics. Admitting that some of them are no longer members of the party but merely trying to destroy it before leaving, Ogbeh rationalised their suspension saying though it was procedural measure adopted by the party to dissuade them, some of them still stood their ground hence the latest action of the party. "The procedure is to suspend them, then you summon them. The first time they came to me, they had already gone to court. But what is more annoying and I must say on behalf of NWC, what we found more irritating was that the guidelines we prepared satisfied their need. We were at the NEC meeting they were there, they refused to say a word in their own defence," he said..

Ogbeh further assured that the party was prepared to organise primaries as many times as possible so as to ensure fairness at all cost.

He disclosed that there were few mistakes in the list of gubernatorial aspirants released by the party but said they had been corrected.

 

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