Politics

Panellists urge INEC to extend party primaries

By Tunde Joshua

Supporting the demand by political parties for an extension of the timeline for primaries, a group of experts have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift its position.

The electoral management body had refused to shift ground as INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu at various fora recently said any alteration to the schedule of activities will affect the timing for the conduct of the 2023 polls.

But on Friday, a panellist at a round table organised by the Abuja School of Political and Social Thought in Abuja advanced reasons why INEC must grant the request for extension.

They argued that it is expedient for INEC to heed the clarion call by parties to allow them to complete all processes that will lead to rancour-free primaries.

Director of the School of Political and Social Thought, Dr Sam Amadi pointed out confusion over the comprehensive list of party delegates due to the uncertainty of President Muhammadu Buhari signing the amendment to the Electoral Act 2022.

According to him, aside from the short frame of time given by INEC to political parties, the controversy about whether statutory delegates will vote during the primaries has left parties stranded.

He said parties are shifting the date of the primaries because they are not sure of what President Muhammadu Buhari will do before Saturday when the primaries are expected to start in earnest.

Amadi noted that extending the time for political parties will give them ample time to do the right thing which will go a long way to affect the outcome of the 2023 political process, The Trumpet gathered.

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Another scholar, Professor Udenta Udenta said “there is room to make sure that we get the primaries of the parties right because it is critical to the election process. Nigerians need clarity, consistency and enough procedure for real political participation. People need to be involved. INEC needs to provide that enabling environment.”

Dr Kelechi Akubueze said that INEC as a regulator of the election process has the administrative powers to clarify issues relating to the election, especially where there is controversy.

Akubueze wants INEC to assume its role as regulator and not a facilitator, adding that “INEC should take the report of its monitoring officials seriously, INEC should not say our hands are tired when it has to do with the election. Any issue that arises and is not covered by the constitution or the Electoral Act, INEC should make administrative pronouncements.” he said.

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