A Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has warned against what he called the attempt by the National Electoral Umpire, the INEC to stampede the various political parties over the conduct of their primaries.
In a media release by his media office in Abuja on Thursday, the politician maintained that the “insistence of INEC that political parties must conclude their primaries before June 3, 2022 is unreasonable and illegal.”
He added that “party primaries are integral part of the democratic process, and it is bewildering that INEC is not even interested in debates between aspirants, which remains a huge opportunity to define party platforms.”
According to him, while the Electoral Act is clear that parties have 180 days to election to submit their nomination, which is in August, it seems what the “INEC wants is just for parties to gather somewhere and select candidates any how.”
Olawepo-Hashim equally argued that while the INEC has power to draw election timetable, it has no such power over timetable for parties’ primaries.
“The timetable for primaries are the internal affairs of political parties, in so far as they do not violate the electoral act.”
“The right for political parties to internally regulate themselves is an essential part of their freedom of Association, in as much as their actions do not violate the Constitution and the Electoral Act,” he said.
While insisting that Democracy is a process and not an event, Olawepo-Hashim submitted that “it is therefore hypocritical that INEC that has postponed many elections on the very day of election, will now be insisting that her suggested dates of primaries, which are outside the provisions of the law, are sacrosanct.”
He observed that “we are in a testy transition process where flexibility is needed within the limits of the law.”
According to him, “It is also amazing that everyone is keeping quiet about this whole thing, some sections of the media are justifying it and criticizing the political parties for requesting for more time for their primaries.”
He also countered what he called the spurious argument that time is needed for dispute resolution in courts, wondering “when has it become the business of INEC to set up calendars for judicial matters that can go on for years into the tenure of the next administration.”