By Chimezie Godfrey
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has reiterated its position not to review the timelines for the conduct of primaries by political parties.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who stated this at the second quarterly meeting with political parties for 2022 held on Monday in Abuja, noted that there are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out.
He therefore said that any review to extend the timelines will adversely affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the commission.
He said, “The period earmarked for the conduct of primaries by political parties commenced on 4th April 2022 and will end 24 days from today i.e. 3rd June 2022.
“Twice in the last two weeks, the Commission had cause to remind political parties of the necessity for strict compliance with the timelines for party primaries. I hereby reiterate the position of the Commission that there will be no review of the timelines.
“There are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out. Any review to extend the timeline for one activity will affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the Commission. This will ultimately result in more complications than what the extension seeks to achieve.
“Therefore, the Commission will not review the timelines. Working together, we should ensure fidelity to the timelines in conducting transparent and democratic primaries for the purpose of electing candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be held on 25th February and 11th March 2023.
The INEC boss revealed that the Commission has prepared a document to guide political parties in the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates for election.
“In the spirit of working together to comply with the requirements of law, the Commission has prepared a document to guide political parties in the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates for election, including a checklist of the documentation required for a successful nomination.
“The guide is among the documents contained in your folders for this meeting. Similarly, the Commission has prepared a calendar of party primaries for presidential, governorship, national and state assembly seats based on the proposals submitted by political parties as at Friday 6th May 2022. This document is also contained in your folders for this meeting,” he said.
He urged political parties to promote inclusivity in the electoral process by ensuring that women, youths and Persons with Disability are accorded greater representation.
According to him, this is the only they can assure citizens of their commitment to good governance and just paying lip service.
“As you conduct your primaries and nominate candidates for elections, this is the appropriate time to remind you of your commitment to promoting inclusivity in the electoral process. Women, Youths and Persons with Disability (PWDs) have been yearning for greater representation, particularly in elective positions.
“To assure citizens that you are not paying lip service to this commitment, political parties should encourage greater involvement of all under-represented segments of the society as candidates for elections. This is the only way we can change the reality of increasingly low level of representation of these critical segments of the society in legislative assemblies in particular and the governance of our country in general,” he said.
Yakubu reminded stakeholders of the upcoming Ekiti State Governorship and Osun State Governorship elections, and the need for political parties to forward samples of materials for the election to be inspected by the Commission.
He said, “Turning to other elections, I wish to remind you that the Ekiti State Governorship election is holding next month on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election is holding in two months on Saturday 16th July 2022.
“Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to invite political parties to inspect samples of materials for the election not later than 20 days before the date fixed for an election. In compliance with this provision, we have invited all political parties fielding candidates for the Ekiti State Governorship election to inspect samples of the materials on Wednesday 18th May 2022 at the Commission’s Conference Room in Abuja at 11.00am.”
The INEC chairman encouraged political parties to ensure transparent electioneering process devoid of acrimony and rancour.
“As you conclude your primaries and prepare for the off-cycle and general elections, I urge you to ensure a transparent electioneering process devoid of acrimony and rancour. In doing so, fidelity to internal democracy is critical. Unfortunately, the number of litigations by aggrieved party members challenging the conduct of party primaries so far may exceed the 807 pre-election Court cases on the 2019 General Election in which the Commission was joined by litigants. In addition, as we all know the security situation in the country is challenging enough. Do not wittingly or unwittingly compound the situation by the disruptive behaviour of your members and supporters during party primaries and general elections.
“As we commence our second regular quarterly consultative meeting for this year, I want to reassure party leaders that while the Commission will remain firm in applying the law, we will continue to work with political parties as critical stakeholders in the best interest of our country,” he stressed.
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