*Don’t stampede parties, Olawepo-Hashim cautions INEC

*Senator Mark sues for peaceful PDP primaries

By Clifford Ndujihe, Levinus Nwabughiogu & John Alechenu

THE House of Representatives Minority Caucus has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sign the one item amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 to avert political crisis in the country.

Noting that the issue was affecting pending primaries of the political parties, the caucus urged “President Buhari to note that any further delay in signing the amendment to the Electoral Act to give political parties a sense of direction in the conduct of primaries for the election of candidates for the 2023 general elections has the capacity to derail our entire democratic process and destabilise our dear nation.”

The caucus recalled that the document was transmitted to the President by the National Assembly for assent since last week.

The amendment was swiftly done to legally provide a place in the law for statutory delegates of political parties to vote during their congresses and conventions.

The caucus stated that giving assent to the amendment will avert an imminent political crisis in the country.

Caucus’ statement

The call was conveyed in a statement by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, on Thursday.

“The caucus notes with grave concern that Mr. President’s delay in signing the single amendment to Section 84 (8) of the Electoral Act 2022 has thrown the nation into serious confusion and constitutes a huge threat to our democracy and the smooth conduct of the 2023 general elections, the statement read.”

The Minority Caucus urged “President Buhari to note that any further delay in signing the amendment to the Electoral Act to give political parties a sense of direction in the conduct of primaries for the election of candidates for the 2023 general elections has the capacity to derail our entire democratic process and destabilise our dear nation.”

“As representatives of the people, the Minority Caucus urges Mr. President to avert an imminent political crisis which has the capacity of exacerbating the security situation in the country by immediately signing the Amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 and leave a legacy of a credible electoral process to the nation.

“Our caucus calls on all Nigerians, the Civil Society, the International Community and all lovers of democracy to prevail on President Buhari to immediately sign the amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 and save our nation from an avoidable crisis.”

Senator Mark sues for peaceful PDP primaries

The Minority Caucus spoke as the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, 2023 National Convention Organizing Committee, Senator David Mark, appealed to party faithful across the country to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship in the conduct of the primaries.

In a statement ahead of the party primaries, which will begin with the election of candidates for the state Houses of Assembly seats on Saturday (May 21, 2022), Senator Mark urged party men and women to comply with the rules of the game.

The former President of the Senate (2007- 2015) said “the party has clear guidelines and rules for the exercises. Every aspirant should be guided by the processes. The party will not compromise any of the rules.”

INEC has no power to stampede parties into conducting primaries now, says Olawepo-Hashim

Meanwhile, a stalwart of the All Progressive Congress, APC, and Businessman, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to stampede the various political parties over the conduct of their primaries.

He said that the “insistence of INEC that political parties must conclude their primaries before June 3, 2022 is unreasonable and illegal,” adding that “party primaries are integral part of the democratic process, and it is bewildering that INEC is not even interested in debates between aspirants, which remain a huge opportunity to define party platforms.”

In a statement, the politician noted that while the Electoral Act is clear that parties have 180 days to election to submit their nomination, which is in August, it appears that what the “INEC wants is just for parties to gather somewhere and select candidates anyhow.”

Olawepo-Hashim agreed that the INEC has power to draw election timetable but argued that the electoral umpire does not have power over timetable for parties’ primaries.

His words: “The timetables for primaries are the internal affairs of political parties, in so far as they do not violate the electoral act.

“The right for political parties to internally regulate themselves is an essential part of their freedom of Association, in as much as their actions do not violate the Constitution and the Electoral Act.”

Insisting that Democracy is a process and not an event, he said “it is therefore hypocritical that INEC that has postponed many elections on the very day of election will now be insisting that her suggested dates of primaries, which are outside the provisions of the law, are sacrosanct.

“We are in a testy transition process where flexibility is needed within the limits of the law.”

He continued: “It is also amazing that everyone is keeping quiet about this whole  thing, some sections of the media are justifying it and criticizing the political parties for requesting for more time for their primaries.”

He also countered what he called the spurious argument that time is needed for dispute resolution in courts, wondering “when has it become the business of INEC to set up calendars for judicial matters that can go on for years into the tenure of the next administration?”

Vanguard News

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