The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday said 17 out of the 18 registered political parties had notified the Commission of their intention to conduct primaries for the Ondo Governorship election fixed for October 10.
This is contained in a statement issued by Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in Abuja after the commission’s meeting.
It said that only the Boot Party did not give any notification of its intention to conduct primaries for the governorship election.
He said the notification was in compliance with section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act.
The Act made it mandatory for registered parties to give the Commission at least 21 days notice of any congress or meeting convened for the purpose of nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified in the Act.
It said that details of the political parties and their calendar of Congresses/Primaries (including dates and modes of primaries) had been published on the commission’s website and social media platforms.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that according to the calendar of congress and primaries released by the commission, all the 17 political parties opted for indirect primaries.
While the All Progressive Congress (APC) gave the notification of July 20 for its primaries, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), settled for July 22 and July 23 for its primaries in the state.
The statement said that by Section 87 (2) of the Electoral Act, parties had the exclusive discretion to determine the procedure for the nomination of candidates which should be by direct or indirect primaries.
“All the 17 political parties notified the commission of their intention to conduct indirect primaries for the nomination of their candidates.
“Political parties are reminded that they are required to submit a comprehensive list of all the delegates eligible to participate in the primaries at least seven days before the scheduled date.
“The INEC portal for uploading nomination forms will open on July 21, and close on at 6pm on July 28,” it added.
It urged political parties not to wait until the last day before submitting the names of their nominated candidates.
“Political parties must observe all the health protocols and guidelines made available to them by the commission, the Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the State Government.
“They must also enforce the policy of “No Mask, No Voting” in their primaries,” it added.
On the Edo state governorship election, the statement said that 14 political parties conducted primaries and nominated their candidates for the election holding on September 19.
It reminded parties that going by the timetable and schedule of activities for the election campaign in public would begin on June 21, and end on Sept. 17, that is “24 hours before polling day as enshrined in Section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as emended).
“Political parties are hereby reminded that in canvassing for votes, they must comply with the commission’s policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Regulations and Guidelines governing the same.
“They must also comply with the guidelines issued by health authorities.
“At the same time, parties are enjoined to conduct issue-based campaigns in accordance with the Regulations and Guidelines issued by the commission.
“They should appeal to their supporters to shun inflammatory rhetoric and disruptive behaviour capable of breaching the peace.
“The election is an opportunity for the people of Edo to choose among the 14 candidates in the contest.”
The statement said that the commission was concerned that during campaigns, campaign councils rather than candidates and party manifestoes were taking centre stage.
“The election should be a contest of ideas and programmes for the people of Edo to make informed decisions for the development of their state,” it said.
It said that the commission also at its regular weekly meeting deliberated on the Nasarawa Central State Assembly by-election.
It said that two political parties, the APC and the PDP, had conducted their primaries and nominated candidates, using the dedicated portal for the state constituency by-election.
“The personal particulars, including academic qualifications of the candidates have been pasted in the INEC Nasarawa Local Government Area office in Nasarawa state and uploaded on the commission’s website.”