The Independent National Electoral Commission announced on Thursday that the deadline for parties to submit the names of their presidential candidates and running mates, which was set for today (Friday), would not be extended.
In an interview with The PUNCH, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the INEC Chairman’s Chief Press Secretary, insisted that the deadline had not been changed.
“We have to wait until 6pm, Friday 17th June (the deadline) to have the accurate figure,” Oyekanmi said when asked if it was possible to get the number of political parties that had submitted candidate lists. There will be no additional time.”
The commission last month fixed June 9 as the deadline for parties to conduct their primaries and June 17 for submission of candidates’ lists.
Earlier on Thursday, the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, had unveiled the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate.
As of 9:50pm on Thursday, the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had yet to announce his running mate amid controversy over a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
There were reports on Thursday that Tinubu had submitted a name to INEC as his running mate, who according to the report, he would replace later.
When contacted, the Director of Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, said he was not aware of the development.
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“I spoke with the candidate yesterday (Wednesday). He hasn’t told me whom he had in mind or who he is going to announce.”
Efforts to reach the APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, to confirm if a surrogate’s name had been filed for Tinubu’s running mate proved abortive.
As of the time of filing this report, he neither picked calls nor responded to the SMS of our correspondent.
But a ranking member of the House of Representatives, James Faleke, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Tinubu was still consulting with the APC leaders, adding that there was no division in the party.
Faleke, who is leader of the Tinubu Support Group, stated, “I can assure you that the candidate is making proper consultations with the leaders of the party before deciding.”
In a related development, the campaign office of President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in 2019 in Abuja , has been handed over to the APC presidential candidate.