Leaders of the 18 political parties in the country met with the Independent National Electoral Commission today at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja in a scheduled quarterly consultation on developments in the electoral system. The parties used the opportunity of the meeting to express their support for recent policies of the Commission which they say will strength the country’s political system.
Welcoming the party leaders to the meeting, Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu said that the main activity before the Commission and indeed the electoral process at the moment is the Continuous Voter registration [CVR] scheduled to recommence on 28 June 28 2021. However, the INEC Chairman promptly used his opening remarks at the meeting “to remind political parties about the recent letters written to you by the Commission on the imperative of complying with the provisions of the law as well as our regulations governing the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates. The Commission is not happy that candidates for elections are now being determined through litigation long after elections have been concluded and winners declared by INEC”.
“The problem lies squarely with the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by some political parties. We urge you to hold yourselves to the same high standard of free, fair, and credible elections that you hold INEC in all elections. You must ensure strict compliance with your party Constitutions, the law and the Commission’s regulations and guidelines on party primaries in particular and the management of party affairs in general”.
He continued: “After all, Nigerians only exercise their democratic right to elect leaders from the candidates presented by political parties. Electing good leaders begins with the quality of primaries conducted by political parties. We will do our part to ensure that our elections continue to improve”.
Professor Yakubu also harped on the non-compliance of many political parties to provisions of the law which stipulates that they submit their elections expenses report within 6 months of an election. His words: “may I also draw your attention to your obligation under Sections 92 (3) and 93(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which require political parties to submit to the Commission their election expenses reports within six months and election contribution report within three months after the declarations of result of an election”.
“We have reminded political parties of these obligations in respect of the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections held last year. However, only seven out of 14 political parties have responded in the case of Edo State and 8 out of seventeen for Ondo State. We wish to remind political parties of the consequences of the failure to do so as enshrined in the Electoral Act. We therefore expect all defaulting parties to comply in earnest as you prepare for forthcoming elections”.
Prof. Yakubu then discussed preparations for the take-off of the CVR with the political parties, seeking their usual support for this critical exercise that will enable all eligible Nigerians to register to vote in future elections.
Responding on behalf of the political parties, Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, commended INEC for remaining steadfast in the face of attacks on its facilities. He also congratulated INEC for successfully breaking the 25 year old jinx of creating additional polling units. According to him, it is an indication that the Commission is ready for the onerous task ahead 2023 and beyond
Dr Nzenwa said “We are grieved that crucial national assets as INEC facilities housing sensitive and non-sensitive electoral materials and equipment will be destroyed, and in the process diminish the capacity of the electoral management body to conduct elections in the country.
“We are, however, glad that in spite of this setback and after expressing thrall of regret, the Commission did not allow this to dampen its spirit but went ahead dutifully to continue with the ongoing expansion of voter access to polling units which it unveiled yesterday”.
“We dare say that we do not envy the Staff, Management and Leadership of the Commission at this crucial period in Nigeria’s’ political history as working in the Commission has become one of the most hazardous job to undertake on account of attack it has suffered over the last few months”.
On the newly unveiled additional polling units the IPAC Chairman said “we are further enthused with the successful unveiling of 56,872 polling units yesterday bringing the total number of pulling units to 176,846 in the country and breaking the 25 year jinx of failed effort to do this by the Commission in addition to removing hundreds of polling units from private properties, royal palaces, shrines, mosques and churches a clear indication that the Commission is prepared to face the onerous task ahead 2023 and beyond”.
At the end of the discussions after reviewing preparations for the CVR by the Commission, the Meeting issued a communique in which he made four resolutions;
1. That the expansion of voter access to polling units with the creation of additional 56,872 polling units is a welcome development.
2. That the effort of the Commission in resolving the 25 years issue which brings the number of polling units in Nigeria to 176,864 is commendable.
3. That online pre-registration exercise will commence on 28th June 2021 for a period of three (3) weeks.
4. That the CVR exercise which is scheduled to take place in 2,673 designated centres will be devolved to the INEC LGA/Area Council Offices nationwide depending on an assessment of the security situation and other related factors.
5. That the CVR exercise will be further devolved to other designated centres depending on further assessment of the security situation.
The Consultative meeting with the Political Parties was attended by Chairmen and National Secretaries of the 18 Political Parties or their representatives, National Commissioners of INEC; Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, AVM Ahmad Tijjani Muázu, May Agbamuche-Mbu, Dr. Ademola Ogunmola and Malam Mohammed Haruna as well as Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran Anthony and senior officers of the Commission.