By Dominic James
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reiterated the need for political parties to adhere strictly to the principles of internal democracy in line with their constitutions, guidelines, the Electoral Act 2022 and other Regulations and Guidelines issued by INEC, as they conduct their respective primaries to nominate candidates for the 2023 General Election.
The Commission had, on Saturday 26th February, released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election containing 14 activities including party primaries, scheduled to take place between 4th April and 3rd June 2022 – a period of 60 days. Two out of the activities – publication of the Notice of Election and Collection of the Nomination Forms – have already been implemented on 28th February and 1st March respectively. The next activity is the conduct of primaries.
In a statement dated 5th April and signed by Mr. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), the Commission affirmed that all the political parties’ candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be conducted, must emerge from democratic, transparent, and valid primaries, in line with Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The statement partly reads: “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.
“As required by law, the Commission shall 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. 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.
“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. The Commission will not monitor such primaries and their outcome will not be accepted.”
The Commission also enjoined political parties to avoid acrimonious primaries that could result in unnecessary litigations.
The 2023 General Election will begin on Saturday 25th February 2023 with the Presidential and National Assembly elections, to be followed by the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly polls two weeks later on Saturday 11th March.