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Olawepo-Hashim reveals why INEC should postpone primaries by two months

Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress has expressed concern that the Independent National Electoral Commission could endanger the conduct of the 2023 general election with what alleged “plots and partisan interests”.

According to him, the looming danger stemmed from the “tight INEC schedule of primaries imposed on political parties in the country”.

Olawepo-Hashim insisted that he had expected the political parties “to be in court over this matter to lay to rest the INEC meddlesomeness in what is their (parties) internal affairs”.

He, therefore, advised that the commission should postpone the primaries by two months on account of the tight schedule of the parties to protect the integrity of the 2023 elections.

“The nation loses nothing by allowing a two-month additional window for party primaries in line with the 180-day requirement of the law,” he said.

Olawepo-Hashim in a statement issued in Abuja said the schedule “has been influenced purely by a section of the political elites who have positioned themselves to benefit from this INEC calendar.”

He said, “We have come a long way in our journey and as one of those who played a prominent role in that transition process in 1998, I can smell danger from afar any time it rears its ugly head.

“The current tough guy grandstanding of the INEC chief must give way to reason so as not to endanger the entire process.

“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.

“To start with, it is not the business of INEC to fix dates of primaries in as much as the primaries are conducted 180 days before election in accordance with the provision of extant law.

“Election was stopped in this country and new dates announced when it dawned on all that INEC was conducting a sham exercise. We also had a situation where election was postponed because of security concerns. What then is this infantile argument by this INEC that the dates for the primaries cannot be moved forward when it has become obvious that what is about to hold will be flawed?

“Whose interest is this INEC serving, the public or unknown interests desirous of fostering on Nigerians a flawed electoral process with far-reaching consequences for the nation?”

While taking due notice of new sundry regulatory powers granted to INEC which seeks to make political parties parastatals of INEC, Olawepo-Hashim insisted that he had expected the political parties to be in court over this matter to lay to rest the INEC meddlesomeness in what is their(Parties) internal affairs.

He said, “The question again 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 in which they will be elected have not been defined.”

He maintained that the window of extension of party primaries canvassed for would also allow the party leadership, 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 one another.

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