A CHIEFTAIN of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the deadline it set for the conduct of party primary elections by two months.
According to INEC’s timetable for the 2023 general elections, political parties must conclude their primaries before June 3, 2022.
The commission has so far rejected calls for the extension of the deadline.
In a statement posted on his verified Facebook page on Saturday, Olawepo-Hashim insisted that INEC should extend the timeframe it set for primaries.
He alleged that INEC’s deadline for the primaries was influenced by some politicians who stand to benefit from the commission’s timetable.
“Ordinarily, party primaries were conducted in Nigeria since 1998 between August and December of every election year. This sudden change by the current INEC management has been influenced purely by a section of the political elites who positioned themselves to benefit from this INEC calendar.
“Predictably, the political process is robbed of any clarity as there is even confusion as to who is lawfully a qualified delegate to primaries that are supposed to be going on.
“Unfortunately, the INEC management has continuously insisted that party primaries schedule cannot be changed.
“The nation loses nothing by allowing a two-month additional window for party primaries in line with the 180-day requirement of the law,” the APC chieftain said.
Olawepo-Hashim urged the political parties to sue INEC over the matter.
According to him, the electoral commission was usurping the powers of the political parties.
“I take due notice of new sundry regulatory powers granted to INEC which seeks to make political parties parastatals of INEC instead of political parties, they have always been in our Constitution and democratic practices.
“By now, I expect the parties to be in court over this matter to lay to rest the INEC meddlesomeness in what is their (parties) internal affairs,” he said.
He added that the rigidity of the Commission over the deadline could endanger the entire election process.
“The question is: whose interest is INEC serving in this induced crisis? It is also intriguing that many aspirants to various offices are running around the place, when delegates to the primaries they seek to be elected into have not been defined.
“The window of extension of party primaries canvassed for, will also allow the party leaderships, the executive and the legislative leadership to get together to clean up the mess created in the Electoral Act in a bid by different groups to outsmart each other.
“The nation does not need an election impasse to be added to the myriad of crises bedeviling it,” he stressed.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice and good governance. You can shoot him an email via firstname.lastname@example.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.