How APC, PDP, LP plan campaign kick-off Wednesday

…As INEC warns against hate speech

As the campaigns for the 2023 general election begin Wednesday, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) have lined up a number of activities for the day; BusinessDay has gathered.

Bayo Onanuga, director, media and publicity of the APC presidential campaign council, in a statement on Monday, said that there would be a special prayer session and peace walk in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to the statement, nominated members of the council, chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, are expected to participate in the special prayer sessions.

It said: “There will be a Peace Walk immediately after the prayers. All nominees will be issued their letters of appointment same day. On behalf of the Chairman of the campaign council, President Muhammadu Buhari, our candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, we congratulate all members of the campaign council.

“We know this is a call to serve our great party that will demand total commitment and sacrifice from all of us. It is the council’s strong belief that all members will work hard to deliver a resounding victory for our great party in the 2023 Presidential election.

“We also want to use this medium to express our profound gratitude to all support groups registered with the campaign council. We are aware you have been working assiduously to promote our candidates and the party across the 36 states and FCT.

“The party and the candidates acknowledge your hard work and great financial and human resources that have been voluntarily expended since we began this journey. We urge you to continue your good work. The PCC will work with the support groups as we move along into the campaign season. We encourage other groups yet to formally register with the PCC to do so immediately for proper harmonisation.”

As part of preparations for the take-off of the campaign for the next year’s polls, James Faleke, secretary of the APC-PCC, last Friday night released a 422-member presidential campaign council.

The PDP has said it would go ahead with the inauguration of its Presidential Campaign Council as earlier scheduled for Wednesday.

Debo Ologunagba, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, who spoke with BusinessDay in Abuja, said the party would not be distracted from its responsibilities by unnecessary bickering.

“We have moved on and nothing will stop us. Everything is set. The party is conscious of its responsibilities and every step is being undertaken to ensure that the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians are not thwarted by unnecessary bickering,” he said.

He said that the party was ready to move ahead and that relevant organs within the party were carrying out the job of reconciling aggrieved members.

“The party has organs making sure that all aggrieved members are pacified,” he said.

Charles Aniagwu, spokesman for the party’s Presidential Campaign Council and current Delta State Commissioner for Information, told BusinessDay that the party was ready for the campaigns.

He noted that the party’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has demonstrated the kind of maturity and leadership qualities to pull it through whatever crisis the party might face, ahead of the campaigns.

Aniagwu said: “Atiku has demonstrated enough commitments to solving the current crises and is ready to do more with the laws of our party.

“By the grace of God, we are ready to start analysing all the issues and to tell Nigerians what we have in stock for them.”

Speaking on plans to pull off the campaign with Nyesom Wike’s group, Aniagwu said the party would carry everybody along, adding: “We are interested in the equity and justice they are talking about without having to bend our laws. We are determined to unite all Nigerians, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, age and creed.

“Don’t forget that they said they have not left the fold, they are still part of the PDP. The beauty is that democracy is at play. We will ensure that we are much more united at the end of the day.”

Meanwhile, the Labour Party said the party has put in place a “straightforward campaign structure.”

Arabambi Abayomi, the party’s national publicity secretary, said that the structure was made up of the “Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress in all the 774 Local Government including all their affiliates, the generality of the suffering masses of Nigeria who have been short-changed and decimated economically, our Obedient political movement members all across the nation, other members in all the wards, local government and across the 36 states of the federation and FCT.”

Read also: INEC warns against abusive language as campaign starts Wednesday

He said: “All these will form part of the campaign structure of the party. As it stands now we have over 33 million Nigerians rooting for a change of leadership in Nigeria under Peter Obi/Datti presidency and also at every and each of these levels in LP, the party will unceasingly and strongly sustain its presence and keeps improving steadily.

“Campaigns for LP are continuous and very unbroken, not even the large scale top-notch National rallies in the states and the National Capital will in any way reduce the amount of effort, energy and focus of the party in the more local levels.”

INEC warns against abusive language

Ahead of the commencement of the presidential campaign, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that a political message or slogan must not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.

INEC also said abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reactions or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.

Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, gave the warnings at a two-day capacity-building workshop for INEC Press Corp Members on critical issues in the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Commission’s Processes, Innovations, Preparations for the 2023 General Election in Abuja on Monday.

Yakubu, represented by Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, reminded the media of their constitutional and legal obligations, saying 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 privately owned media organisations subject to payment of appropriate fees,” he said.

The INEC chairman urged all 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.

While assuring Nigerians that the commission will deploy and continue to deploy appropriate technology for the conduct of elections, he reiterated that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and INEC Result Viewing Portal will be deployed for the conduct of the 2023 general election.

“We will continue to use technology to improve and enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria. Our goal is electoral justice where every Nigerian will experience electoral fulfilment.

“As I have pointed out, the commission has entered the critical phase in the electoral process. As of today, the commission has undertaken eight out of the 14 items on the Calendar and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.

“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 Representatives 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,” Yakubu said.

According to the chairman, the cleaning up of the voter register using the Automated Biometric Identification System is almost finalised and INEC will engage with stakeholders relating to its findings before displaying the register for claims and objections as required by law.

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