Omeiza Ajayi, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has bowed to pressure by political parties, especially the ruling All Progressives Congress APC for the extension of the June 3 Primary Election deadline.
After twice failing to arm-twist INEC into extending its June 3 deadline for the conduct of political parties’ primary elections, the nation’s 18 registered political parties have now asked the to consider a one-week extension.
The parties under the aegis of the Inter-Party Advisory Council IPAC had earlier asked for a 37-day extension and when it was not granted, they asked for a two-month extension.
However, at a meeting with INEC on Friday, the parties through the IPAC Chairman, Yabagi Sani, requested the electoral umpire to allow them to utilize the one week period of inactivity between the earlier June 3 deadline and June 10 when they are expected to begin uploading the names of their candidates unto the Commission’s Candidate Nomination Portal.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu however requested a closed-door session with the parties after which INEC also met as a commission and granted the extension.
“Earlier, the political parties had requested for a 37 – 60 days extension of the timeline for primaries and the nomination of candidates. The Commission was emphatic that this request could not be granted because it would disrupt other scheduled activities on the Timetable. This position of the Commission has not changed”, said Barr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee.
He said that based on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election, the parties have now pleaded with the Commission to use the 6-day period between 4th and 9th June 2022 to conclude outstanding primaries and prepare to upload the list of candidates and their affidavits on the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.
“The Commission did not schedule any specific activity during this period. The idea is to simply give parties time to compile the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates before uploading the same to the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal from 10th – 17th June 2022.
“The Commission has decided to allow the request of the political parties since the six-day period does not conflict with the next scheduled activity which is the submission of the list of nominated candidates or any of the subsequent timelines which remain sacrosanct. However, this request is granted in respect of outstanding primaries only without prejudice to those already concluded by political parties. The Commission will not monitor already concluded primaries”, he stated.
After the conduct of primaries, INEC said the next critical activity for political parties is the online submission of the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor which shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidates indicating that they fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into the various offices via the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.
“In addition, the Commission, based on past experience, has decided to train the political party officials to make efficient and effective use of the portal. The Commission will train four officials from each of the 18 political parties, making a total of 72 in all.
“Unfortunately, some of the political parties are still yet to submit their nominees for the training. The Commission hereby reminds such parties to do so immediately. The Commission wishes to reiterate that only electronically submitted nominations will be processed.
“Political parties are therefore advised to ensure that their primaries are free of rancour in order to meet the timelines for the remaining activities embodied in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election”, he stated.