Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has warned political parties wishing to conduct their primaries within its timelines to prepare and submit their membership registers to the Commission or risk running foul of the law.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the charge Friday in Abuja at the second regular consultative meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs.
According to him, only one out of Nigeria’s 18 registered political parties have fulfilled that important aspect of the law.
“Let me also seize this opportunity to remind political parties that by the provision of Sec. 77 of the Electoral Act 2022, each party is required to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copy and to make such register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries, congresses and conventions.
“So far, only one political party has complied. It is a mandatory requirement of the law and all parties are required to comply. Doing otherwise is like going into an election without the register of voters. There can be no credible primary or general election without a credible register of voters”, he said at the meeting.
Giving an update on the number of parties that have notified it of their dates for primary election, Yakubu said 14 political parties have now notified the commission.
“As you are all aware, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election a day after the Electoral Act 2022 was signed into law. The next activity under the Timetable is the conduct of party primaries by political parties. So far, 14 parties have submitted their notices and schedule of primaries to the Commission.
“As required by law, the Commission shall monitor the primaries in the constituencies where the parties intend to field candidates. This means that the State offices will be heavily involved in the exercise. I urge you to exercise our monitoring responsibility with absolute neutrality. There are sanctions for violation of the law and you should know this and warn our staff accordingly”, he stated.
The INEC boss also added that inspite of the security challenges, stakeholders must remain resolute in the determination to conduct the 2023 General Election as scheduled.
He said; “In doing so, every eligible Nigerian must be given the opportunity to vote, including citizens in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Happily, the Commission has a standing policy on IDP voting which has been periodically reviewed. In the light of the security challenges around the country and guided by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, the Commission will immediately review the policy to ensure that no internally displaced Nigerian in any part of the country is disenfranchised. The issue of IDPs is one of the issues to be discussed at this meeting.
“The Commission is confident that our security agencies have the capacity to deal with the security challenges ahead 2023 General Election. Fortunately, we have started the preparations for the election early. There is therefore ample time to deal with the current situation to enable the Commission and all stakeholders to deploy nationwide for the election. We will continue to work with the security agencies for a peaceful electioneering and conduct of elections. To this end, the Commission will hold high-level meetings with the security agencies and consultations with stakeholders immediately after the forthcoming national holidays”.