By Lucy Osuizigbo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said the bye-election to fill the vacant Eti-Osa Constituency I seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly would be held on Sept. 30.
Mr Sam Olumekun, INEC’s new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos State, announced the date at a stakeholders meeting attended by party leaders at the Lagos headquarters of the commission.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bye-election is coming up following the July 18 death of Mr Kazeem Alimi of the All Progressives Congress, who occupied the seat.
He succumbed to a brief illness at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, two weeks after celebrating his 50th birthday.
Dr Mudashiru Mustapha, INEC Administrative Secretary in Lagos State, had on Aug. 11 said Sept. 16 was being considered for the election.
He had, however, said it was tentative had yet to be approved by the national headquarters of INEC.
The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), after Mustapha’s disclosure, urged the electoral body to shift the proposed date for the bye-election by two weeks.
The group appealed to INEC to consider Sept 30, stressing that they just finished a local government election in the state.
They said this would give the parties more time to be able to sensitise and mobilise their people ahead of the election.
Olumekun, the new Lagos REC, told the stakeholders at his maiden meeting with them that Sept. 30 had been approved by the INEC national headquarters after considering the recommendations by party leaders.
”This meeting is an opportunity for me formally introduce myself to stakeholders in the state and discuss the modalities for the forthcoming Eti-Osa I bye-election that has been slated for Sept 30.
”Time table has been drawn and we have given them out to the parties. The commission will monitor these activities.
”INEC is taking the management of elections to higher level. Since 2011, we have progressively improved on our performance.
”We have designed new tools which we are going to work with to conduct a very fair, credible, peaceful and conclusive election,” he said.
Olumekun urged political parties to conduct their activities peacefully and partner with the commission in the areas of voter registration and education.
”Voters’ education is very key to the growth of democracy and INEC alone cannot educate and mobilise the citizens to perform their civic responsibilities.
”We have about 1.4 million Permanent Voter Cards that are yet to be collected. We are appealing to political parties to help mobilise and encourage the people in this regard, and be part of the voter registration,” Olumekun said.
Reading out the timetable for the forthcoming bye-election, Mr Oladosu Balogun, Head of Department, Electoral Operations, INEC-Lagos, said the conduct of primaries by political parties was from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5.
”Forms should be collected from Abuja and the last day for submission of Forms CF001, CF002 and nomination form at INEC headquarters in Abuja is Sept. 7, while the last day for the publication of list of nominated candidates will be Sept. 14.
”Sept. 23 is for the submission of names and addresses of party agents to electoral officers. Campaigns have started and the last day for campaigns is on Sept.28. Election will then take place on Sept. 30, ” Balogun said.
Reacting, Mr Charles Odugbesi, a representative of the Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), suggested that the collection and submission of forms should be done in Lagos and not Abuja to save cost and time.
Also Mr Shola Omolola, Lagos State Chairman, Action Alliance (AA) said that the timing for the primaries was short and appealed for an extension of the date to allow political parties conduct their primaries adequately.
Mr Kola Ajayi, State Chairman, IPAC, urged the commission to make the form available online. (NAN)