INEC warns parties against acrimonious, parallel primaries

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INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday frowned at various infractions committed by political parties ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

The Edo State governorship election is scheduled to be held on September 21, 2024, while the Ondo State governorship election will be held on November 16, 2024.

The representative of Edo Central Senatorial District, Senator Monday Okpebholo, was declared the winner of the Edo State All Progressives Congress governorship primary election.

Also, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, won the governorship primary of the Edo State Labour Party as the candidate for the party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

Asue Ighodalo emerged as the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate for the upcoming Edo poll.

The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, in the first regular quarterly consultative meeting with political parties in Abuja, noted that infractions such as acrimonious primaries, and the emergence of multiple candidates among others lead to ‘unnecessary’ litigation among party members.

Yakubu urged political parties to adhere strictly to its proposed dates and modes of primaries.

He said, “I urge political parties to adhere strictly to your proposed dates and modes of primaries. Frequent changes as we witnessed recently during the Edo primaries are not only disruptive but costly.

“The commission cannot mobilise, demobilise and remobilise our officials for the monitoring of party primaries at the convenience of political parties. Parties should stick to their proposed dates and modes of primaries for certainty and optimal deployment of resources.

“Similarly, political parties should avoid acrimonious primaries. Increasingly, the conduct of parallel primaries and the emergence of multiple candidates is a frequent occurrence. So too is the tendency to grant waivers to candidates who were a few days earlier card-carrying members of other political parties and nominating such persons to the commission as their candidates for election.

“Some of these infractions lead to unnecessary litigation among party members in which the commission is always joined as a party. The legal fees and cost of producing Certified True Copies of documents can be used more productively in other electoral activities by both the political parties and the commission. We must find a solution to this situation,”

The chairman added that only six parties contesting the Edo governorship poll have uploaded their nominations to the portal while 16 out of 19 parties indicated an interest in running for the Ondo governorship poll, warning that no extension of deadline would be granted.

He noted, “Already, party primaries for the Edo State Governorship election have been concluded. By the timetable and schedule of activities for the election, political parties have 20 days to upload the list and personal particulars of their candidates to our dedicated portal. We have trained party Liaison Officers and established a Help Desk for political parties. The portal opened on 4th March 2024 and will automatically shut down at 6 pm on Saturday 24th March 2024. Two weeks later, only six parties have uploaded their nominations to the portal.

“We urge you to keep to our schedule of activities and avoid last-minute rush that may undermine your ability to successfully nominate your candidates. There will be no extension of time beyond the deadline already published in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election, to enable us to publish the personal particulars of candidates (Form EC9) on 31st March 2024 as required by law.

“For the Ondo State Governorship election, party primaries begin in the next two weeks on April 6, 2024 and end three weeks later on April 27, 2024. So far, 16 out of 19 political parties have indicated interest in participating in the election.”

Meanwhile, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council, Yusuf Dantalle, noted that the council would be proactive to ensure that the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections meet the expectations of Nigerians and the international community.

“There should be no excuse for poor performance.

“IPAC will constantly engage INEC and major stakeholders to ensure the success of these elections and will be there for mobilisation of voters, sensitisation, and monitoring of polls,” Dantalle said.

He assured all that the council will engage leaders of political parties on strict adherence to internal party democracy in the nomination of candidates for various elective offices,” which will, in turn, reduce pre- elections litigation.”