Intra-party wranglings, parallel primaries wasting INEC resources – Yakubu

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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Tuesday, expressed the frustration of the electoral body over the rancorous primary elections in various political parties ahead of the September 21, 2024 governorship election in Edo State.

Yakubu, who spoke in Abuja at the first regular quarterly consultative meeting with political parties, said INEC found the infighting within political parties disruptive of its activities, adding that INEC also wastes funds to defend litigation arising from controversial primaries.

The governorship primaries conducted by the three frontline political parties, the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party; and Labour Party, were rancorous.

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The APC had to conduct a second primary after the first one threw up three ‘winners’.

For the PDP, there were two parallel primaries; while a similar situation played out in the Labour Party.

Speaking on Tuesday, the INEC chairman said the electoral body found such a situation disruptive and called on political parties to adhere strictly to their proposed dates and modes of primaries.

He said, “I urge political parties to adhere strictly to your proposed dates and modes of primaries. Frequent changes, as we witnessed recently during the Edo primaries, are not only disruptive but costly.

“The commission cannot mobilise, demobilise and remobilise our officials for the monitoring of party primaries at the convenience of political parties. Parties should stick to their proposed dates and modes of primaries for certainty and optimal deployment of resources.

“Similarly, political parties should avoid acrimonious primaries. Increasingly, the conduct of parallel primaries and the emergence of multiple candidates is a frequent occurrence. So, too 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 litigation among party members in which the commission is always joined as a party. The legal fees and cost of producing Certified True Copies 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.”

The INEC chairman also complained that only six parties had uploaded the particulars of their candidates to INEC portal with only five days left to the deadline.

He said, “Already, party primaries for the Edo State governorship election have been concluded. 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 our dedicated portal. We have trained party Liaison Officers and established a help desk for political parties. The portal opened on 4th March 2024 and will automatically shut down at 6 pm on Saturday 24th March 2024. Two weeks later, 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 extension of time beyond the deadline already published in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election, to enable us to publish the personal particulars of candidates (Form EC9) on 31st March 2024 as required by law.”

Meanwhile, the INEC chairman disclosed that 16 political parties had indicated interest in contesting the November 16, 2024 Ondo State governorship election.

“For the Ondo State governorship election, party primaries begin in the next two weeks on April 6, 2024, and end three weeks later on April 27, 2024. So far, 16 out of 19 political parties have indicated interest in participating in the election,” he said.

In his remarks, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council, Yusuf Dantalle, said the council would be proactive to ensure that the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections met the expectations of Nigerians and the international community.

“There should be no excuse for poor performance. IPAC will constantly engage INEC and major stakeholders to ensure the success of these elections and will be there for mobilisation of voters, sensitisation and monitoring of polls,” Dantalle said.