Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday advised political parties to ensure their primaries are properly conducted in line with relevant laws.
The advice was contained in a statement signed by INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
Mr Okoye warned that the electoral agency will not hesitate to disqualify parties in primaries that do not adhere strictly to the principles of internal democracy.
He also advised parties to avoid contentious primaries that may lead to unnecessary lawsuits.
“Nigerians may recall that on Saturday 26th February 2022, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election,” the statement read.
“The Timetable provides detailed activities, including the conduct of primaries, nomination of candidates by political parties and other activities leading to the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday 25th February 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections on Saturday 11th March 2023. All the activities are in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.
“So far, two out of the 14 activities in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities have been successfully accomplished. The Notice of Election was published on 28th February 2022, while nomination forms have been made available on the Commission’s website since 1st March 2022 for political parties to download and issue to their candidates.
“The next activity is the conduct of primaries by political parties in line with the dictates of Section 84 of the Electoral Act for which the Timetable and Schedule of Activities provides a period of 61 days (4th April to 3rd June 2022).
“The Commission wishes to reiterate that parties must adhere strictly to the principles of internal democracy, drawing from their constitutions, guidelines, the Electoral Act and other Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Commission. Their candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be conducted in 2023 must emerge from democratic, transparent and valid primaries, in line with the provisions of Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022. 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.
“Political parties are enjoined to avoid acrimonious primaries that could result in unnecessary litigations that may lead to failure to nominate and field candidates for elections in some constituencies.”