The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has finally bowed to pressure from political parties by extending the deadline for the conduct of primary elections by six days.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission took the decision after a meeting with the 18 registered political parties under the aegis of the Inter-Party Advisory Council IPAC, on Friday in Abuja.
IPAC had earlier sought a two-month extension from the June 3 deadline, a demand which was rejected by the commission.
Okoye said the extension gives parties time to compile the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates before uploading the same to the INEC portal.
“This request is granted in respect of outstanding primaries only without prejudice to those already concluded by political parties, adding that Commission would not monitor already concluded primaries,” Okoye said.
“Based on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Elections, the parties have now pleaded with the Commission to use the 6-day period between June 4 and 9, 2022 to conclude outstanding primaries and prepare to upload the list of candidates and their affidavits on the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.
“The Commission did not schedule any specific activity during this period. The idea is to simply give parties time to compile the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates before uploading the same to the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal from June 10 to June 17, 2022.
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“The Commission has decided to allow the request of the political parties since the six-day period does not conflict with the next scheduled activity which is the submission of the list of nominated candidates or any of the subsequent timelines which remain sacrosanct.”
According to Okoye, “after the conduct of primaries, the next critical activity for political parties is the online submission of the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor which shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidates indicating that they fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into the various offices via the INEC Candidates Nomination Portal.”
He added:” In addition, the Commission, based on past experience, has decided to train the political party officials to make efficient and effective use of the portal. The Commission will train four officials from each of the 18 political parties, making a total of 72 in all.
“Unfortunately, some of the political parties are still yet to submit their nominees for the training. The Commission hereby reminds such parties to do so immediately. The Commission wishes to reiterate that only electronically submitted nominations will be processed.”
He advised parties to ensure that their primaries are free of rancour in order to meet the timelines for the remaining activities embodied in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.