As the 2019 general elections approach, Akwa Ibom government has declared a three-day fasting and prayer programme beginning from Thursday, November 15 to usher in peace during the political campaigns and other political activities in the state.
The political campaigns by political parties for Presidential Election and NASS elections would commence on November 18 and end on January 14, 2019; while that of governorship and State Houses of Assembly would start on December 1 and end on February 28, 2019, according to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable.
In Akwa Ibom, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Congress, APC are the two major parties that will make strong showing in the state.
A press release dated November 13 and issued by Charles Udoh, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, said “In the first two days of the programme, those in public offices and in private business locations are expected to gather and pray at the close of work to round off the fasting.
“On Saturday, November 17, 2018, everyone who can make it to the Banquet Hall Grounds, Government House, Uyo is invited for the final prayers at an open service at 4 p.m.”
The release stated that “We would also pray that no matter how the messengers of evil overstretch to rob us of our peaceful environment, God should continue to protect and sustain us. Our last prayer point would be that only ordained God-fearing leaders shall emerge as winners in all elective offices.”
“The Government of Akwa Ibom State enjoins our spiritual fathers and leaders of faith-based organisations, churches, government offices, markets, farm settlements, schools, motor parks, and indeed every business organization, to encourage their members to participate in this very important three-day programme.
“Citizens and residents of Akwa Ibom state; irrespective of political affiliation or religious leaning are also implored to join in the interest of the peace and unity of our dear state,” it enjoined.
The release noted “As a people, we must remain grateful to God Almighty for His ceaseless benevolence and abundance of peace which our beloved state has enjoyed in the past three and a half years. We do not take that for granted. We have toiled, we have travelled around the globe to paint a glorious picture of a new and prosperous Akwa Ibom.
“Our efforts have been rewarded by the large and continuous influx of investors to our state. The sustenance of this new lease of economic prosperity is hinged on the peace, safety and security within our borders. We believe that politics should not be a platform to roll-out drums of violence and criminality that can destroy all that we have built within the last few years.
“The government of Akwa Ibom State, therefore, has put in place adequate security measures to ensure a peaceful atmosphere in our state during the forthcoming general elections.
“It is Only God that can give us peace in and out of the election period, and we trust that He is always faithful to do it for us.”
The theme of the programme which defies the mere rhetoric of politics is “PEACE BE STILL” (Mark 4:39) and the essence is to collectively pray to God to avert all forms of bloodshed and violence in our state throughout the electioneering period.
However, the fasting does not imply declaration of any public holiday.
The presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on same day on February 16, 2019.
Governorship and state assembly elections will also hold same day on March 2, two weeks after the presidential election. The elections into Abuja Area Councils also hold on March 2.
The conduct of party primaries including resolution of disputes arising from primaries for national and state elections has been slated for between August 18 and 2018 to October 7, 2018.
The last date for submission of nomination forms by political parties has also been scheduled for December 3 for president and NASS elections, and state elections December 17.
The collection of nomination forms for FCT Area Council elections would commence on November 3 to November 10, while the last date for the return of the nomination forms is Dec. 14.
November 17 is the last date for the withdrawal or replacement of candidate(s) for president and NASS elections, and December 1 for governorship and state house of assembly elections.
INEC would on January 2, 2019 publish notice of the polls, and on January 7, 2019 publish official register of voters for the election.
Political parties were also expected to submit names of their agents for the elections on February 1, 2019.