INEC declared on Friday that the Social Democratic Party, one of the accredited parties that will be contesting for the presidential seat in the upcoming elections, can still be voted for, even though the party is yet to finalize on its candidate.
For some time, Donald Duke and Professor Jerry Gana have been battling over who should represent the party as its presidential candidate. In fact, the case has been taken to court. Despite a court declaration that Gana is the rightful candidate, members of the party have adamantly rejected the professor and chosen Donald Duke instead. As the matter continues to linger, INEC’s Voter Education Committee chairman, Festus Okoye was forced to clarify the commission’s position.
On the Sunrise Daily program aired by Channels TV on Friday, Okoye said the party had initially submitted Donald Duke’s name before a letter from the court asked that they put Gana instead.
He explained, “At the time we published the list yesterday, the SDP had not forwarded the name of Gana as the presidential candidate of the party. If the party had forwarded the name of the presidential candidate as directed, INEC would have put up the name of Prof Gana on the list as the candidate of the party. So, the onus is on the party.
“The court did not say INEC should substitute or put up the name of Gana as the presidential candidate of the party. So, we are waiting for the party to submit the name of Gana to INEC as directed by the court. That is why we put by the side (against the blank space where the name of the party’s candidate should have been), ‘by court order.’”
He further emphasized, “It’s the political party that is going to be on the ballot for today (for now). Anytime they submit that particular list (of names of presidential and vice-presidential candidates), we will collect the list.
“If we go into the presidential election and we do not have the name of the candidate of the SDP, the logo of the SDP will still be on the ballot because the court did not direct that we should remove the logo of the SDP from the ballot.”
The INEC boss equally stated that if the party follows the mandate of the court and officially submit Jerry Gana’s name, the commission will remove that of Donald Duke.
Okoye subsequently insisted, “If after some time they do not submit, we will see what the law says in relation to the issue of whether they are time-bound or not.
“If the SDP wins the presidential election, then it becomes a different ballgame. But I believe the political party is law-abiding and they should, within the next few days, obey the court order and do what the laws say they should do.”