By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
The National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) instructed political parties that wish to adopt the Direct Primary way to elect their candidates for the elections of the Edo and Ondo government to submit their membership registration to the Commission.
The Commission noted that this will allow for effective monitoring of the party's primaries.
He also requested that the list of delegates be provided by political parties that opted for the Indirect Primary mode.
The National President of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who announced the request during a virtual meeting with political party leaders, commissioned the parties to guarantee rancor-free primaries, adding that the party primaries form the basis for the secondary election conducted by the Commission.
According to him: “Based on experience, it is also important to draw your attention to the need for primaries without grudges. The party's primaries form the basis for the secondary election conducted by the Commission. Therefore, you must avoid acts of bullying, corruption, vote-buying and other diverse violations of the Electoral Law.
“When monitoring the conduct of the party primaries, we will pay special attention to their compliance with the law and consider sanctions so that the undisciplined behavior of some party supporters is not carried forward into the main election.
“I want to appeal to political parties that choose to have the direct primaries use the registration of members to be used for the election of the wing to the local and state government levels for the effective fulfillment of our monitoring responsibilities under the law.
“Those who choose indirect primaries must also make the list of delegates for the election available to the Commission. To do otherwise will be tantamount to an election without voter registration. The Commission makes available to each political party a complete voter registration before all major elections. We hope that political parties correspond for their primaries ”.
He also reaffirmed the Commission's readiness to conduct the government and farewell elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his words: “It is obvious that, at the moment, the COVID-19 pandemic is the dominant issue of the discussion globally. The democratic process is not affected. In Nigeria, the national response to the pandemic is coordinated by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), which has issued clear guidelines, anchored in the warning from health officials.
“Based on the guidelines, the Commission has launched a policy on how electoral activities can proceed, mitigating risks for everyone involved in the process. Politics will be an important issue for discussion at this meeting. I am happy to note that several political parties have also issued guidelines to their members for the safe conduct of party primaries for the upcoming elections for the Edo and Ondo government, based on recommendations from health officials.
“You must remember that on February 6, 2020, the Commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the elections for the Edo and Ondo government. Today, it is exactly 110 days for the election of the government of Edo, scheduled for September 19, 2020 and 131 days for the election of the government of Ondo, held on October 10, 2020.
“The times for the two elections contain 14 activities taken from the Constitution, the Electoral Law, as well as the Commission's Regulations and Guidelines. The first activity is the official publication of the Notice, enshrined in Section 30 of the Electoral Law. The date of this activity for the elections for the Edo government is today Monday, June 1, 2020. I am happy to say that this activity has been carried out. The Election Notice (Form EC60A) was posted at our Edo State office. In addition, and for the first time, the Commission also posted the same notice on our website and social media platforms. With this development, the process that led to the election of the Edo government on September 19, 2020 started in earnest ”.
He continued that “the party's primaries for the nomination of candidates for the election of the Edo government begin tomorrow. Some political parties have already invited the Commission to monitor their primaries, which are due to take place from 2 to 27 June 2020. This time, the submission of nomination forms will be done online, for which a dedicated portal has been created.
“I therefore want to alert political parties that intend to present candidates for the election to strictly comply with these dates, as well as the new online procedure for the submission of candidacies. Any party operating outside these dates will be solely to blame. The portal will automatically shut down on the scheduled date and at the fixed time. The Legal Department and ICT will inform this meeting about the new procedure.
“In addition to the government elections in the states of Edo and Ondo, the Commission is also preparing to hold nine (9) previous elections. The details have already been released. However, as we prepared for this meeting, our office in the state of Zamfara informed us that a member of the House of the State Assembly of the Bakura Constituency passed away yesterday. Pending the declaration of vacancy by the President of the State Assembly, the number of farewell elections has increased.
“At the same time, there is a need for a national dialogue on the frequency of elections in Nigeria. In May 2020 alone, five members of the Houses of the State Assembly passed away. Since December 2019, a period of six months, twelve members of the Houses of the National and State Assembly have passed on. This is in addition to the resignation of two senators from Bayelsa who have since taken over as governor and vice-governor of the state.
“The cost of conducting these elections for the Commission, security agencies, political parties and candidates, election observers, media, litigation (pre- and post-election) and disruption of activities as a result of restricting movement on election day is huge. There is no longer an election period in Nigeria.
“The Commission is busy conducting elections year-round between one general election and the next. This often diverts our attention from reform, innovation, peer learning and planning to consolidate our electoral process. The Commission will open a discussion with stakeholders and the National Assembly on the reforms needed for democratic and more economical options.
“Returning to the subject of today's meeting, the Commission released the policy for holding elections under the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome the contribution of party leaders to the new policy, particularly in the areas of implementation, such as managing party primaries and nominating candidates, sending names of voting agents, securing the electoral process, managing voting units, and grouping of results. "