INEC Mulls Extending Deadline For Primaries

There are indications that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may bow to pressure from political parties to adjust the electoral timetable, especially on the party primaries.

The commission and the leadership of the 18 registered political parties are having an emergency meeting on the way forward.

At the the ongoing meeting at INEC headquarters in Abuja, the Inter Party Advisory Commission (IPAC) asked for a week extension for political parties to conclude the conduct of their presidential conventions and primaries.

IPAC chairman, Engr Yabagi Yusuf Sani, urged INEC to adjust its June 3rd timeline for the conduct of primaries.

Sani said, “I want to thank you for giving us the very official time to meet with you once again on the issue of how the parties can collaborate with you to ensure that we have a crisis-free election as we conduct our primaries.

“You remember that we wrote a letter to you immediately after our interactive session. Our request for you is to kindly take a second look at the timetable which we can see that ties in respect for the fact that we are putting this election for the first time.

“Shifting the timeline will enable us to deliver on the promise of having free and fair elections as we conduct our primaries.”

Also, the national chairman, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, said the “window” will enable them to carry out the task ahead of them perfectly.

He said, “What we are pleading is to give us time and move it within 3rd and 9th. So that we can put our house in order. We ask for 30 days you refuse us. We ask for two months you also refused. So we are asking for this small window.”

Responding, the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the meeting was convened at the request of the parties.

According to him, the meeting was distinct from its regular consultative meetings.

“And the Commission has obliged the parties accordingly. We just heard from the chairman of IPAC who on behalf of the political parties has once again requested a review of our election timelines.

“It appears that the proposition this time around is different from the request made by IPAC for which the commission has responded emphatically that an extension between 30 and 60 days will not be entertained. In view of the overlapping activities. It appears that the parties have now presented a more defined request for what the chairman calls for a little adjustment,” Yakubu said.

He also said that a statement will be issued after a working session with the parties.

INEC had reviewed its schedules for the 2023 general elections in February after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the 2022 Electoral Act.

In compliance with the new Electoral Acts, the commission fixed April 4 to June 3 for parties to elect their flag bearers for the 2023 elections.

However, civil society organisations (CSOs) and prominent Nigerians, including a former chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, warned the commission against yielding to the demands of the political parties to extend the deadline, but to stick to its timetable to prevent a ripple effect on other schedules of the electoral processes.

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