The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has stated that it will authenticate the membership registers submitted to it by all political parties, ahead of the primary elections of the parties, warning however, that any party that falsifies its figures or has multiple registrations on its register, may have all its Candidates disqualified from the 2023 general elections, Page 36 learnt.
It stated that whether the parties choose to adopt direct or indirect primaries, the Commission will verify their Delegates’ lists against the registers they submit, adding that, no infraction would be tolerated from the 18 registered political parties in the country.
Recall, that Section 77 of the Electoral Act 2022, mandates all political parties to maintain membership registers, and submit same to the Commission not later than 30 days before their respective primary elections.
Subsection 2 of the Act states that “every registered political party shall maintain a register of its members in both hard and soft copies”, while Subsection 3 notes that “each political party shall make such a register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries, congresses, or convention”.
Recall also, that INEC had fixed party primaries for between April 4 and June 3, 2022, and most parties have scheduled their primaries for May.
Findings however, revealed that the parties preferred to schedule their primaries towards the deadline set by INEC, so as to be able to keep an eye on one another. Another reason, according to party sources, is to limit the drastic options open to persons aggrieved during the primaries.
For example, the ruling APC said that its Presidential primary would hold between May 30 and June 1; Senate, May 24; House of Representatives, May 22; State Houses of Assembly, May 20; while the Governorship primary would hold on May 18.
The APC which is in power in 22 States, claims it has about 40 million members in the register it submitted to INEC.
Also, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which is in power in 12 States, said that it would hold its Presidential primary on May 28 and 29; Governorship primary, May 21; Senate, May 14; House of Representatives, May 12; and State Houses of Assembly, May 7.
Speaking to The Punch, Rotimi Oyekanmi, who is the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission will authenticate the membership register of political parties that opt for direct primaries for nominating their Candidates.
“For the indirect primary mode, political parties are also required to give their lists of Delegates to the Commission.”
INEC warned that any party found to have doctored its membership register or has multiple registrations, risks being excluded from the elections, in accordance with Section 84 (13) of the Electoral Act.
Responding to an inquiry on the issue, Oyekan stated: “Section 84 is clear about this. If for instance, a political party opts for the direct primary mode for its Presidential primary, all registered members of the party shall vote for the Aspirant of their choice. However, if a political party falsifies its membership register, this will be a direct contravention of Section 84 (13). Such a party risks not having its Candidate included in the election for the position in view.”
Section 84 (13) of the Act reads: “Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its Candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.”
Barely 3 days to the deadline for the parties to submit their registers, only 5 parties have so far submitted their membership registers to the Commission; the Electoral Act mandates all parties to submit their registers not later than 30 days to their primaries.
Given that the deadline for primaries is June 3, it implies that all the parties have till Tuesday, May 3, to submit their registers.
More news later…