We’ve lost 2 weeks to Easter, Sallah breaks –IPAC
Extension’ll put unnecessary pressure on parties –Commission
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the 18 registered political parties are at loggerheads on the review of the timeline for the conduct of party primaries. INEC has given the par-ties between April 4 and June 3, to conduct their primaries for the purpose of electing candidates for next year’s general elections, and insisted that they comply with the timeline. But the parties, at a meeting with the Commission, yesterday, demanded an extension by two months, from June 3 to August 4. Chairman of the Inter- Party Advisory Council (IPAC), the umbrella of the registered political parties, Eng Yabagi Yusuf, said the adjustment would cover the period lost due to the Easter and Sallah holidays.
The call for extension in the timeframe of the present INEC timetable and schedule of activities are based on certain circumstances and developments that have hampered timely and strict compliance by the political parties to the timetable. “The Christian Lenten season and the Muslim fasting in the month of Ramadan respectively, followed by the celebrations of Easter and Eid-el-Fitr (Sallah), in which the vast majority of party members were involved. “The developments inevitably, therefore, greatly disrupted planned activities and programmes of the political parties, leading to the loss of about two weeks out of the allotted time of the timetable.
“It is also noteworthy that the scenario was the first time that the two major events in the Christian and Muslim calendars would be occurring around the period of general elections,” Yusuf stated. He added that the time allotted by INEC for the conduct of party primaries is too short, in view of the efforts required by the political parties for effective and scrupulous screening and selection of qualified and quality standard-bearers. He stated that the parties were not unmindful of the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act, with respect to timelines in the electoral process before making the request for extension, adding: “We are, however, of the considered view that our request will not, in any way, tantamount to an infringement or a breach of any extant laws and provisions.
“This is because the alterations that we are demanding will not affect the statutory dates, already fixed for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.” He drew the Commission’s attention to the shift by 24 hours in the conduct of the 2019 general election, which he said did not affect the smooth conduct of the exercise. But INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, bluntly turned down the request, saying: “There are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out.” Yakubu noted that any review to extend the timeline for one activity will affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the Commission.
This will ultimately result in more complications than what the extension seeks to achieve. Therefore, the Commission will not review the timelines. “I hereby reiterate the position of the Commission that there will be no review of the timelines,” the INEC Chairman stressed. He urged the parties to work with INEC to ensure fidelity to the timelines in the conduct of transparent and democratic primaries for the purpose of electing candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections would be held on February 25 and March 11, 2023. Yakubu disclosed that the Commission has prepared a document to guide political parties in the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates for election, including a checklist of the documentation required for a successful nomination. He also stated that INEC has prepared a calendar of party primaries for presidential, governorship, national and state assembly seats, based on the proposals submitted by political parties as at May 6, 2022.
The INEC Chairman equally urged the party leaders to ensure transparent and rancour-free primaries, stating that the litigations trailing the 2019 general election have exceeded 807, which INEC was joined by the litigants. “In addition, we all know the security situation in the country is challenging enough. Do not wittingly or unwittingly compound the situation by the disruptive behaviour of your members and supporters during party primaries and general elections,” he warned. Prof Yakubu called on the parties to consider the women, youths and persons with disability (PWDs), while choosing candidates for the elections.