By Princess-Ekwi Ajide-Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has asked political parties to adhere strictly to the 2023 General election timetable and schedule of activities.
It will be recalled that on Saturday 26th February 2022, the Commission had released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election which provides detailed activities, including the conduct of primaries, nomination of candidates by political parties and other activities leading to the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday 25th February 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections on Saturday 11th March 2023.
The activities are in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.
A statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, said so far, two out of the 14 activities in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities have been successfully accomplished stressing that notice of Election was published on 28th February 2022, while nomination forms had been made available on the Commission’s website since 1st March 2022 for political parties to download and issue to their candidates.
According to the statement, conduct of primaries by political parties in line with the dictates of Section 84 of the Electoral Act for which the Timetable and Schedule of Activities provides a period of 61 days (4th Aril to 3rd June 2022) is expected to follow.
The Commission urged political parties to strictly adhere to the principles of internal democracy, drawing from their constitutions, guidelines, the Electoral Act and other Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Commission saying that candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be conducted in 2023 must emerge from democratic, transparent and valid primaries, in line with the provisions of Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
It cautioned that where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of the Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.
The statement also maintained that by law, the Commission will monitor the primaries of each political party that provides the required legal notice in line with Sections 82 (1) and (5) of the Electoral Act however warned that failure of a political party to notify the Commission of any convention or congress convened for the purpose of nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified in the Act shall render the convention or congress invalid.
It noted that primaries must be conducted in the various constituencies as provided in Section 84 of the Electoral Act as it is a violation of the law to conduct primaries outside the constituencies for which parties are nominating candidates adding that the Commission will not monitor such primaries and their outcome will be unacceptable.
The Commission further enjoined political parties to avoid acrimonious primaries that could result in unnecessary litigations that may lead to failure to nominate and field candidates for elections in some constituencies.