Remarks by the Honourable Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the Second Quarterly Meeting with political parties for the year 2022 held at the INEC Conference Room, Abuja, on Tuesday 10TH May 2022
The Chairmen and Leaders of Political Parties
Secretary to the Commission
Directors and other Senior Officials of the Commission
Members of the INEC Press Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
- It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you all to our second regular quarterly meeting with political parties for this year. We are aware that this a very busy period for you and we appreciate your presence.
- Since our last meeting four months ago on 18th January this year, there have been changes in the leadership of seven political parties. Let me therefore welcome the Chairmen and Secretaries of the Action Alliance (AA), All Progressives Congress (APC), Action Peoples Party (APP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), National Rescue Movement (NRM), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (PDP) who are attending this meeting for the first time in their new capacities.
- This meeting is also the first since the Electoral Act 2022 came into force on Friday 25th February 2022. It is also our first meeting since the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election over two months ago on Saturday 26th February 2022. Already, all 18 political parties have forwarded the schedules of their primaries to the Commission, and some have commenced the process of choosing their candidates by conducting Ward and Local Government congresses. The period earmarked for the conduct of primaries by political parties commenced on 4th April 2022 and will end 24 days from today i.e. 3rd June 2022.
- Twice in the last two weeks, the Commission had cause to remind political parties of the necessity for strict compliance with the timelines for party primaries. I hereby reiterate the position of the Commission that there will be no review of the timelines. There are so many inter-related activities that are associated with the timelines which must be carried out. Any review to extend the timeline for one activity will affect other activities and put unnecessary pressure on political parties and the Commission. This will ultimately result in more complications than what the extension seeks to achieve. Therefore, the Commission will not review the timelines. Working together, we should ensure fidelity to the timelines in conducting transparent and democratic primaries for the purpose of electing candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be held on 25th February and 11th March 2023.
- In the spirit of working together to comply with the requirements of law, the Commission has prepared a document to guide political parties in the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates for election, including a checklist of the documentation required for a successful nomination. The guide is among the documents contained in your folders for this meeting. Similarly, the Commission has prepared a calendar of party primaries for presidential, governorship, national and state assembly seats based on the proposals submitted by political parties as at Friday 6th May 2022. This document is also contained in your folders for this meeting.
- As you conduct your primaries and nominate candidates for elections, this is the appropriate time to remind you of your commitment to promoting inclusivity in the electoral process. Women, Youths and Persons with Disability (PWDs) have been yearning for greater representation, particularly in elective positions. To assure citizens that you are not paying lip service to this commitment, political parties should encourage greater involvement of all under-represented segments of the society as candidates for elections. This is the only way we can change the reality of increasingly low level of representation of these critical segments of the society in legislative assemblies in particular and the governance of our country in general.
- Turning to other elections, I wish to remind you that the Ekiti State Governorship election is holding next month on Saturday 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election is holding in two months on Saturday 16th July 2022. Section 42 of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to invite political parties to inspect samples of materials for the election not later than 20 days before the date fixed for an election. In compliance with this provision, we have invited all political parties fielding candidates for the Ekiti State Governorship election to inspect samples of the materials on Wednesday 18th May 2022 at the Commission’s Conference Room in Abuja at 11.00am.
- As you conclude your primaries and prepare for the off-cycle and general elections, I urge you to ensure a transparent electioneering process devoid of acrimony and rancour. In doing so, fidelity to internal democracy is critical. Unfortunately, the number of litigations by aggrieved party members challenging the conduct of party primaries so far may exceed the 807 pre-election Court cases on the 2019 General Election in which the Commission was joined by litigants. In addition, as we all know the security situation in the country is challenging enough. Do not wittingly or unwittingly compound the situation by the disruptive behaviour of your members and supporters during party primaries and general elections.
- As we commence our second regular quarterly consultative meeting for this year, I want to reassure party leaders that while the Commission will remain firm in applying the law, we will continue to work with political parties as critical stakeholders in the best interest of our country.
- Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting. I thank you and God bless.