By Gabriel Ewepu
AHEAD of 2023 general elections, Civil Society Organisations, under the auspices of Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform, Wednesday, argued that direct primaries not additional burden on the Independent National Electoral Commission as stipulated in the Constitution.
The CSOs in a statement signed by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and endorsed by Centre for Liberty, Raising New Voices, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), NESSACTION, The Nigerian Alliance, The Art and Civics Table and Speak Out Africa Initiative, urged INEC to be guided by the constitution.
The statement reads in part, “We are happy that the President has written to INEC and other stakeholders to seek knowledge and clarification on the direct primaries and a few other amendments.
“We wish to do the President and INEC a public service by pointing them to a relevant provision in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“According to the Third Schedule of Constitution, Item F Section 15 (C), the Commission (INEC) shall have the power to monitor the organisation and operation of the political parties, including their finances, conventions, congresses and party primaries.
“For the sake of clarification, it is essential to state that the direct primaries system in any form is an aggregate of ward elections, which is a condition precedent in the indirect primaries system.
“And for the indirect primaries system to be successfully practised there ought to have been ward elections to elect adhoc delegates and party executives among who the executive delegates will be selected.
“It is clear that by the provision of the Constitution in the Third Schedule F 15 (c), INEC ought to have been involved in every stage of the more demanding, complex and opaque indirect mode, which should have required the deployment of monitors to every ward at every point.
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“Our position, therefore, is that since INEC has been involved in the more cumbersome indirect primaries process, the commission is equally well-positioned to monitor direct primaries, even if it will attract extra cost.”
However, the statement urged political parties to prepare adequately to ensure successful direct primaries.
“We will like to urge the political parties to make a success of the direct primaries, moderate it with acceptable guidelines and also borrow a leaf from INEC by ensuring that party primaries for 2023 are conducted on two separate dates.
“We, however, concede that after testing the exclusive use of direct primaries in the coming governorship primaries in Ekiti and Osun States, the process could be re-evaluated to assess the impacts and challenges”, it pointed.
Meanwhile, they also described President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to INEC seeking the commission’s advice and clarification on contentious amendments as a welcome development.