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Ondo guber: INEC warns parties against parallel primaries

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against the conduct of parallel primaries for the November 16 Ondo governorship election.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warning on Tuesday in Abuja, at the INEC 2024 first quarterly meeting with leaders of political parties.

Yakubu disclosed that so far, 16 out of 19 political parties had indicated interest in participating in the election, for which party primaries would hold from April 6 to April 27.

He urged political parties to adhere strictly to their proposed dates and modes of primaries, noting that the frequent changes witnessed recently during the Edo primaries were not only disruptive but costly.

He warned that the commission would not mobilise, demobilise and remobilise its officials for the monitoring of party primaries at the convenience of political parties.

According to him, parties should stick to their proposed dates and modes of primaries for certainty and optimal deployment of resources.

”Political parties should avoid acrimonious primaries.  Increasingly now, conduct of parallel primaries and the emergence of multiple candidates is a frequent occurrence.

”So also is the tendency to grant waivers to candidates who were a few days’ earlier card-carrying members of other political parties and nominating such persons to the commission as their candidates for election.

”Some of these infractions lead to unnecessary litigations among party members in which the commission is always joined as a party.

”The legal fees and cost of producing Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents can be used more productively in other electoral activities by both the political parties and the commission.

”We must find a solution to this situation”.

On the Sept. 21 Edo governorship election, Yakubu advised political parties to avoid last minute rush for uploading the particulars of their nominees, adding that March 24 was the deadline for that.

He explained that by the timetable and schedule of activities for the election, political parties have 20 days to upload the list and personal particulars of their candidates to INEC dedicated portal.

”We have trained party Liaison Officers and established a Help Desk for political parties. The portal opened on March 4 and will automatically shut down at 6pm on Saturday March 24.

”Two weeks on, only six parties have uploaded their nominations to the portal.

”We urge you to keep to our schedule of activities and avoid last minute rush that may undermine your ability to successfully nominate your candidates.

”There will be no extensions of time beyond the deadline already published in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election, to enable us publish the personal particulars of candidates (Form EC9) on March 31 as required by law,” he said.

Yakubu also said that the commission would soon release the date for the re-run elections in Kano and Enugu states.

He recalled that with the exception of two constituencies in the two states, winners had emerged from the by-elections and rerun elections held in February in 26 States of the federation.

He said that like the 2023 general election, the recent re-run and by-elections also produced the most diverse outcome in terms of party representation.

”Seven political parties won elections in different National and State Assembly constituencies.

”In some cases, parties won elections in constituencies outside their assumed strongholds. We congratulate the winners.

”However, as you are aware, elections were disrupted by thugs in Enugu South 1 State Constituency and Kunchi/Tsanyawa State Constituency in Kano State.

”We are engaging with stakeholders, including the security agencies. Very soon, a new date will be announced for the re-run elections in the two state constituencies,” he said.

In his remarks, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr Yusuf Dantalle, pledged the council’s partnership with INEC and other stakeholders in the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship, and subsequent polls.

Dantalle, who is also the Chairman of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), said under his leadership, IPAC would speak truth to power as the platform that produced all elected public officers.

He said that IPAC would ensure enforcement of the current Code of Conduct for political parties which would be reviewed to accommodate recent developments not captured.

He described lessons from the general and off cycle governorship elections as another opportunity to review and re-examine the Constitution, Electoral Act, and regulations for the conduct of elections, and make necessary amendments to strengthen the electoral process.

According to him, it is the duty of political leaders to ensure the elections meet international best practices and also hold critical stakeholders accountable.

”Vote selling and buying, thuggery, voters apathy and intimidation of electoral officials particularly to declare results under duress are still issues militating against the conduct of credible polls in Nigeria.

”This leadership of IPAC will live up to its mandate to ensure an environment conducive for the conduct of successful elections.

”Accordingly, IPAC will set up a Constitution and Electoral Act Amendments Committee to review glaring irregularities in recent elections and make proposals to the National Assembly in its ongoing Constitution and Electoral Act amendments.

”In this regard, IPAC will be proactive to ensure that the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections meet the expectations of Nigerians and international community.

”There should be no excuse for poor performance,” he said.

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