Says extension will cause more complications
Harps on inclusion of more women, PWDs
Extension won’t infringe on commission’s work, IPAC insists
By Folorunso Alagbede, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, revealed, yesterday, that it 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.
Consequently, the Commission declared that it will not review the timelines for the various party primaries.
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who said these at the second quarterly meeting with leaders of the 18 political parties for the year 2022 held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, further reiterated the necessity for strict compliance with the timelines for party primaries.
The declaration by INEC was sequel to the appeal by the Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, an umbrella body for the registered political parties for a shift in the 2023 election timetable by the commission, based on what it called the imperatives of ensuring a free and credible polls
Prof Yakubu disclosed that there are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out, pointing out that any review to extend the timeline for one activity will affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the Commission.
This, he warned, will ultimately result in more complications than what the extension seeks to achieve.
The INEC Chairman reminded the parties that as they conduct primaries and nominate candidates for elections,
they should not forget their commitment to promoting inclusivity in the electoral process by giving opportunities for women, Youths and Persons with Disability (PWDs) to be well represented.
Speaking at the well attended meeting, the INEC Chairman 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.
“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”, he said.
Continuing, Prof Yakubu added, “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
“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”, he admonished leaders of the political parties.
The Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, an umbrella body for the registered political parties, had earlier appealed to INEC for a shift in the 2023 election timetable based on what it called the imperatives of ensuring a free and credible polls
The National Chairman of IPAC, Engineer Yabagi Yusuf Sani, in an address read on behalf of the parties,
requested INEC to consider a slight adjustment to the recently announced timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections.
Sani specifically requested for an extension of thirty-seven (37) days to the deadline of the time frame for the conduct of party primaries and resolution of conflicts arising from the primaries.
According to him, “All the eighteen registered political parties on the platform of IPAC are jointly, without exception, requesting the INEC to consider a slight adjustment to the recently announced timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections.
“In summary, the General Assembly of IPAC, after an exhaustive examination of the INEC timetable and related issues, arrived at a unanimous decision to request for an extension of thirty-seven (37) days to the deadline of the time frame for the conduct of party primaries and resolution of conflicts arising from the primaries.
“By implication, the IPAC leadership is appealing to the INEC to extend the deadline for the conduct of party primaries and resolution of ensuing conflicts from the present INEC given date of 3rd June, 2022 to 4th August 2022
“Some of the issues considered by the IPAC General Assembly, which necessitated the call for extension in the timeframe of the present INEC timetable and schedule of activities, are based on certain circumstances and developments that have hampered timely and strict compliance by the political parties to the timetable.
“Some of the constraining developments which, we believe were not considered and therefore, not factored by the INEC while drawing up its schedule of activities includes the following:
The Christian Lenten season and the Muslim fasting In the month of Ramadan respectively followed by the celebrations of Easter and Eid El Fitr, (Sallah), in which the vast majority of party members were involved.
“The developments inevitably therefore, greatly disrupted planned activities and programmes of the political parties, leading to the loss of about two weeks out of the allotted time of the timetable. “It is also, noteworthy that, the scenario was the first time that the two major events in the Christian and Muslim calendars would be occurring around the period of general elections
“The forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states within the timeline of the INEC for the conduct of party primaries were additional remarkable distractions and constraints that obviously affected the political parties because, most of them are, understandably, preoccupied with preparations for the conduct of the elections.
“Very pertinently, the IPAC General Assembly regards the time allotted by INEC for the conduct of party primaries as too short in view of the efforts required by the political parties for effective and scrupulous screening and selection of qualified and quality flag bearers.
“The significance of a tidy selection of party candidates in the elections comes,
in the country.en the long run, with the benefits of minimizing conflicts with all the likelihood of slowing down the electoral process.
“Relatedly, while the unprecedented large number of aspirants jostling to emerge as candidates of their various political parties in the coming general elections, have made the task of screening very cumbersome and demanding, the political parties have also had to be cautious and painstaking in the screening and selection procedures as a safeguard against creating rooms for disruptive incidents of litigation by aggrieved aspirants
“In making the request for extension in the INEC stipulated timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections, we in the Inter-Party Advisory Council, are not unmindful of the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act with respect to timelines in the electoral process.
“We are however, of the considered view that our request will not, in any way, tantamount to an infringement or, a breach of any extant laws and provisions.
“This is because, the alterations that we are demanding, will not affect the statutory dates already fixed for the conduct of the 2023 general
“We are praying for the slight changes in the timetable for the conduct of party primaries in full consciousness of our position as key stakeholders in the nation’s democratic process and who, at the bottom of it all, constitute not only the greatest beneficiaries but, as the platform of all the registered political parties, we are in fact, the
fulcrum around which the entire system and processes revolve.
We should therefore, be seen as a body of responsible and patriotic interest bloc with a very high sense of responsibility and commitment to the success of every crucial stage and aspects in the electoral chain”, he said.