The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmood Yakubu says the commission remains firm in applying the law in the conduct of the 2023 general elections, as political parties sought adjustment to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 Polls.
Speaking Tuesday at the second quarterly meeting with political parties in Abuja, Yakubu assured stakeholders and political parties of the commission’s readiness to work with them in the interest of the country.
“As we commence our second regular quarterly consultative meeting for this year, I want to reassure 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 INEC boss said.
At the meeting, however, Yabagi Yusuf, the National Chairman of, the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) appealed to INEC to adjust its timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections by adding extra 37 days.
Yakubu at the meeting which is the second in the year, and the first after the Electoral Act 2022 came into force on Friday 25th February 2022, told political parties to comply with the existing electoral guidelines, warning that the electoral body would not extend dates for party primaries and congresses.
It is also the first meeting since the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election over two months ago on Saturday 26th February 2022.
Already, all 18 political parties have forwarded the schedules of their primaries to the Commission, and some have commenced the process of choosing their candidates by conducting Ward and Local Government congresses in compliance with the 3 June 2022 commission’s deadline for the conduct of primaries by political parties.
“Twice in the last two weeks, the Commission had cause to remind political parties of the necessity for strict compliance with the timelines for party primaries. I hereby reiterate the position of the Commission that there will be no review of the timelines. There are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out. Any review to extend the timeline for one activity will affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the Commission. This will ultimately result in more complications than what the extension seeks to achieve. Therefore, the Commission will not review the timelines. Working together, we should ensure fidelity to the timelines in conducting transparent and democratic primaries to elect candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be held on 25th February and 11th March 2023.”
Yakubu stressed that “in the spirit of working together to comply with the requirements of the law, the Commission has prepared a document to guide political parties in the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates for election, including a checklist of the documentation required for a successful nomination.
The guide which is among the documents given to party representatives at the meeting is in addition to a calendar of party primaries for presidential, governorship, national and state assembly seats based on the proposals submitted by political parties as of Friday 6th May 2022.
“As you conduct your primaries and nominate candidates for elections, this is the appropriate time to remind you of your commitment to promoting inclusivity in the electoral process. Women, Youths and Persons with Disability (PWDs) have been yearning for greater representation, particularly in elective positions. To assure citizens that you are not paying lip service to this commitment, political parties should encourage greater involvement of all under-represented segments of the society as candidates for elections. This is the only way we can change the reality of the increasingly low level of representation of these critical segments of the society in legislative assemblies in particular and the governance of our country in general.
According to him, the electoral umpire has invited all political parties to inspect samples of the materials ahead of the gubernatorial election in Ekiti.
“Turning to other elections, I wish to remind you that the Ekiti State Governorship election is held next month on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election is held in two months on Saturday 16th July 2022. Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to invite political parties to inspect samples of materials for the election not later than 20 days before the date fixed for an election. In compliance with this provision, we have invited all political parties fielding candidates for the Ekiti State Governorship election to inspect samples of the materials on Wednesday 18th May 2022 at the Commission’s Conference Room in Abuja at 11.00 am.
He advised political parties’ primaries to ensure a transparent electioneering process devoid of acrimony and ran out, urging them to bear in mind, the security situation in the country, and not to wittingly or unwittingly compound the situation by the disruptive behaviour of members and supporters during party primaries and general elections.
In the appeal for more time from the commission, Yusuf, National Chairman, IPAC said the Christian and Muslim festive period disrupted planned activities and programmes of the political parties, hence the demand for more time.