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INEC warns parties against parallel primaries, urges adherence to schedules



Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has called on political parties to conduct transparent and unified primaries, cautioning against the practice of holding parallel primaries. Yakubu made the remarks during a consultative meeting with political party representatives at the INEC headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.

The meeting focused on the off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 21 and November 16 respectively.

Yakubu said while primaries for the Edo election have been concluded, only six parties have uploaded their nominations to the portal.

He said, “The portal opened on 4th March 2024 and will automatically shut down at 6pm on Saturday 24th March 2024. We urge you to keep to our schedule of activities and avoid last minute rush that may undermine your ability to successfully nominate your candidates,” he said.

“There will be no extension of time beyond the deadline already published in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election, to enable us publish the personal particulars of candidates (Form EC9) on 31st March 2024 as required by law.

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“For the Ondo state governorship election, party primaries begin in the next two weeks on 6th April 2024 and ends three weeks later on 27th April 2024.

“So far, 16 out of 19 political parties have indicated interest in participating in the election.”

The chairman urged political parties to “adhere strictly to your proposed dates and modes of primaries” as frequent changes are “not only disruptive but costly”.

The INEC chair emphasized the importance of parties adhering strictly to their proposed dates and modes of conducting primaries. He highlighted the disruptive and costly nature of frequent changes to the primary schedules. He explained that mobilizing and demobilizing INEC officials to monitor primaries at the parties’ convenience is impractical.

He said INEC cannot mobilise, demobilise and remobilise its officials for the monitoring of party primaries at the convenience of political parties.

“Parties should stick to their proposed dates and modes of primaries for certainty and optimal deployment of resources,” he said.

This directive comes amidst concerns about potential internal conflicts within political parties during the upcoming primaries to select candidates for the 2024 elections. Parallel primaries occur when rival factions within a party hold separate candidate selection processes, leading to confusion and disputes over legitimacy.

By urging parties to maintain transparency and adhere to established schedules, INEC aims to ensure a smooth and credible primary election process, paving the way for a fair and peaceful general election in 2024.

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