Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has issued September 15 deadline to all the 91 registered political parties to communicate to the commission the date for conduct of its party primaries for the 2019 general election.
National Commissioner, Election and Party Monitoring Committee, Prof. Antonia Simbine, who represented INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, also revealed that only eight political parties have formally notified the Commission about the date for their primaries.
The Commission spoke at the 2018 Annual Nigeria Political Parties summit under the theme; “Political Parties and Peaceful Conduct of the 2019 Elections,” held in Abuja yesterday.
“I am sure you are all aware that in line with the released Time Table and Schedule of activities for the 2019 General Election, and lNEC’s expected release of notice of election on August 17, the conduct of the political party primaries, which are expected to produce the candidates for the 2019 general election, begins from this Saturday August 18 2018 and ends on October 7 20l8.
“Already, the Commission has received notices from eight political parties scheduling their primaries for respective elective office. It is expected that in line with the three weeks notice requirement as provided in the Electoral Act, all political parties intending to present candidates will issue the Commission the relevant notices before September 15, 2018. In line with the theme of this summit, I will like to argue here that peaceful conduct as far as the 2019 general election is concerned, must begin with the conduct of political party primaries. This is because it has become increasingly obvious that internal conflicts in political parties revolve around the contest for leadership positions and/or nominations to contest elective positions.
“The Commission is increasingly being made a party to court cases instituted by members of the same political party who have failed to resolve their differences democratically or as provided in respective party constitutions.
“Accordingly, it is critical that the pledge by political parties arising from this summit must strongly address the issue of peaceful conduct of party primaries for the 2019 general election.
“To attain this, there need to be a strong commitment by leaders of political parties to not only be guided by democratic principles but to also create an atmosphere that is free and fair for all members of your respective political parties. This, of course, is without prejudice to any special concessions for disadvantaged social groups including women, youths and Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs).
“The Commission on its part will monitor all political party primaries mainly from the perspective of ensuring compliance with the relevant provisions of your respective party constitutions and Guidelines as produced and approved by the executive committees of the political parties.
“It is therefore important that as each party issues its notice and schedule of primaries, the notice should be accompanied with the relevant guidelines indicating the type of primary (direct or indirect) and the mode of election to be adopted for the primaries.
“It is also important to remember that the Commission’s Guidelines for Political Parties, 2013 required political parties to submit to the Commission not only the notice indicating time and venue for the primary but equally important, is the list of delegates and the list of contestants before the commencement of a congress, convention or primary.
“The result sheet signed by the electoral committee as designated by the party is also a required document that must be made available to the Commission’s monitors at the venue of the primary. On our part, we have made some revisions to our guidelines to help improve our monitoring.
“Political parties intending to adopt the direct primary mode of nominating their candidates are also reminded to produce an up to date membership register that will define the size of eligible voters at the primary election.”