Extend Time Table for Party Primaries by 37 Days, IPAC tells INEC

The request is coming even as the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, reassured party leaders that while the Commission will remain firm in applying the law, we will continue to work with political parties as critical stakeholders in the best interest of our country.

The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has appealed to the leadership of the independent national electoral commission for a shift in the 2023 election timetable, based on the imperatives of ensuring free and credible polls. The request is coming even as the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, reassured party leaders that while the Commission will remain firm in applying the law, we will continue to work with political parties as critical stakeholders in the best interest of our country.

The appeal was made today at the second quarterly meeting with political parties for the year 2022 held at the INEC conference room, Abuja FCT.

Below is the text of the submissions of the IPAC as presented by its National Chairman, Mr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani:

Mr. Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, I wish to begin by firstly, reaffirming the appreciation and confidence of the entire leadership and members of the eighteen registered political parties under the platform of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, for the high level of diligence and single-minded commitment you and your management team have been displaying in the conduct of the onerous assignment of superintending the nation’s drive toward having a smooth and reliable, credible and transparent conduct of elections.

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INEC, under your leadership, has won the confidence of the IPAC and all well-meaning citizens, friends of our country and democrats around the world as a result of the zeal, courage and dexterity which have so far, hugely resulted in the conduct of elections marked by unprecedented high level of transparency, credibility, integrity and widespread acceptance.

Consequent to our belief in your clear vision, heroic and patriotic intentions, IPAC has on its part, all along, chosen to remain a reliable partner and a formidable pillar by being consistent in its support and defence of INEC on the series of the administrative reforms and introduction of technology which in our view, are with the noble objectives of further enhancing the efficiency of the electoral process. am here once again giving the reassurance that IPAC will remain unwavering and faithful to INEC towards the actualization of our shared statutory and historic responsibility of deepening the roots of democracy in Nigeria.

It is within the framework of the enduring bond between the INEC and IPAC in service to the country, that all the eighteen registered political parties on the platform of IPAC are jointly, without exception, requesting the INEC to consider a slight adjustment to the recently announced timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections.

In summary, the General Assembly of IPAC, after an exhaustive examination of the INEC timetable and related issues, arrived at a unanimous decision to request for an extension of thirty-seven (37) days to the deadline of the time frame for the conduct of party primaries and resolution of conflicts arising from the primaries. By implication, the IPAC leadership is appealing to the INEC to extend the deadline for the conduct of party primaries and resolution of ensuing conflicts from the present INEC given date of 3rd June, 2022 to the 4th of August 2022.

Some of the issues considered by the IPAC General Assembly which necessitated the call for extension in the timeframe of the present INEC timetable and schedule of activities are based on certain circumstances and developments that have hampered timely and strict compliance by the political parties to the timetable. Some of the constraining developments which, we believe were not considered and therefore, not factored by the NEC while drawing up its schedule of activities include the following:

The Christian Lenten season and the Muslim fasting In the month of Ramadan respectively followed by the celebrations of Easter and Eid El Fitr, (Sallah), in which the vast majority of party members were involved. The developments inevitably, therefore, greatly disrupted planned activities and programmes of the political parties, leading to the loss of about two weeks out of the allotted time of the timetable. It is also, noteworthy that, the scenario was the first time that the two major events in the Christian and Muslim calendars would be occurring around the period of general elections.

The forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states within the timeline of the INEC for the conduct of party primaries were additional remarkable distractions and constraints that obviously affected the political parties because, most of them are, understandably, preoccupied with preparations for the conduct of the elections.

Very pertinently, the IPAC General Assembly regards the time allotted by INEC for the conduct of party primaries as too short in view of the efforts required by the political parties for effective and scrupulous screening and selection of qualified and quality flag bearers. The significance of a tidy selection of party candidates in the elections comes, in the long run, the benefits of minimizing conflicts with all the likelihood of slowing down the electoral process.

Relatedly, while the unprecedented large number of aspirants jostling to emerge as candidates of their various political parties in the coming general elections have made the task of screening very cumbersome and demanding, the political parties have also had to be cautious and painstaking in the screening and selection procedures as a safeguard against creating rooms for disruptive incidents of litigation by aggrieved aspirants.

 

In making the request for extension in the INEC stipulated timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections, we in the Inter-Party Advisory Council, are not unmindful of the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act with respect to timelines in the electoral process. We are, however, of the considered view that our request is not, in any way, tantamount to an infringement or, a breach of any extant laws and provisions. This is because, the alterations that we are demanding, will not affect the statutory dates already fixed for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

 

We are praying for the slight changes in the timetable for the conduct of party primaries in full consciousness of our position as key stakeholders in the nation’s democratic process and who, at the bottom of it all, constitute not only the greatest beneficiaries but, as the platform of all the registered political parties, we are in fact, the

fulcrum around which the entire system and processes revolve. We should therefore, be seen as a body of responsible and patriotic interest bloc with a very high sense of responsibility and commitment to the success of every crucial stage and aspect in the electoral chain.

By way of Illustration and reinforcement of our position that the request for slight modifications the INEC schedule of activities is not, as such, without a precedence, I wish to recall the nation’s experience in 2019, when in the heat of the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission called for a twenty-four shift in the conduct of a scheduled segment of the exercise. At the end of the day, the postponement neither affected the smooth conduct of that year’s entire exercise, nor did it reduce its perception and acceptance by the public as a fair, credible and transparent election.

By the way, I should perhaps, also recall that in the 2019 incident referred to above, the political parties on the platform of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, overwhelmingly and solidly stood by the Independent National Electoral Commission by unanimously supporting the call for a shift in the conduct of the election. That show of solidarity and decision of the political parties was informed by their patriotic consideration of the fact that in the circumstance, taking that course of action was the most rational option, in the superior imperatives of democracy, the electoral process, peace and tranquility in the polity.

This time around, we are expecting the INEC, to grant the quest of the political parties for an extension in the timeline for the conduct of party primaries as a decision that is in the ultimate best interest of the nation’s democracy and specifically, the smooth and successful conduct of a rancour-free, credible, transparent, free and fair elections in the year 2023.

 

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