The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has given in to political pressure, particularly from the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, to extend the June 3 Primary Election date.
The nation’s 18 registered political parties have requested a one-week extension after twice failing to persuade INEC to extend the June 3 deadline for the conduct of political parties’ primary elections.
The parties had requested a 37-day extension through the Inter-Party Advisory Council IPAC, and when that was denied, they requested a two-month extension.
However, at a meeting with INEC on Friday, the parties requested that the electoral umpire allow them to use the one-week period of inactivity between the earlier June 3 deadline and June 10, when they are expected to begin uploading their candidates’ names to the Commission’s Candidate Nomination Portal.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, requested a closed-door meeting with the parties, after which INEC met as a commission and granted the extension.
“Political parties had previously requested a 37–60-day extension of the schedule for primaries and candidate nominations. The Commission was adamant that this request could not be granted since it would interfere with other Timetable activities. The Commission’s position has not changed,” said INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye.
He stated that, based on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election, the parties have requested that the Commission use the 6-day period between June 4th and June 9th, 2022, to complete outstanding primaries and prepare to upload the list of candidates and their affidavits to the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.
“During this time, the Commission did not plan any specific activities.” From the 10th to the 17th of June 2022, the goal is to simply provide parties time to prepare the list and personal information of their nominated candidates before uploading them to the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.
“The Commission has decided to grant the political parties’ request because the six-day timeframe does not clash with the next scheduled activity, which is the submission of the list of nominated candidates, or any of the succeeding timelines, which are both strictly adhered to.” However, this request is only allowed in the case of pending primaries, not those that have already been finalized by political parties. He stated that “the Commission will not oversee primaries that have already taken place.”
The next critical activity for political parties, according to INEC, is the online submission of the list of candidates the party proposes to sponsor, which must be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidates indicating that they fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into the various offices via the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.
“In addition, the Commission has chosen to train political party personnel to use the portal efficiently and effectively, based on previous experience.” A total of 72 officials will be trained by the Commission, four from each of the 18 political parties.
“Unfortunately, some political parties have yet to submit their candidates for training.” The Commission reminds such parties to do so as soon as possible. The Commission would like to emphasize that only nominations submitted electronically will be considered.
He remarked, “Political parties are recommended to ensure that their primaries are free of rancor in order to meet the timetables for the remaining activities reflected in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.”