Ahead of the primaries of political parties scheduled to end on June 3, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it will authenticate the membership registers submitted to it by the parties. It, however, warns that any political party that falsifies its figures or has multiple registrations on its register may have its candidate(s) disqualified.
It said whether the parties choose to adopt direct or indirect primaries, the commission would verify their delegates’ lists against the registers they submitted, adding that no infraction would be tolerated from the 18 registered political parties.
Section 77 of the Electoral Act, 2022 mandates all political parties to maintain membership registers and submit the same to the commission not later than 30 days before their respective primaries.
Subsection 2 of the Act states, “Every registered political party shall maintain a register of its members in both hard and soft copies,” while the subsection 3 reads, “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.”
INEC had fixed party primaries for between April 4 and June 3, and most parties have scheduled their primaries for May. This means the parties have till Tuesday, May 3, 2022, to submit their registers.
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 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 party, which is in power in 22 states, claimed about 40 million members in the register it submitted to INEC.
Also, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which is in power in 12 states, said 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.
In his response to enquiries from one of our correspondents, Mr 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.”
The APC and PDP, for example, have yet to indicate the option they will adopt between direct, consensus and indirect primary, but there were strong indications that the parties may adopt the indirect form of primary, eliminating the likelihood of consensus.
The consensus arrangement initiated by northern presidential aspirants in the PDP was believed to have failed as Governor Aminu Tambuwal and another aspirant, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, have distanced themselves from the emergence of Dr Bukola Saraki and Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State as the consensus candidates. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was not part of the arrangement.
With the calibre of aspirants expressing interest in the APC, most claiming they discussed with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and that he gave them the go-ahead, there were also strong indications that consensus may not be an option for the party.
INEC may disqualify parties with doctored registers, multiple registrations
Meanwhile, INEC has warned that any party found to have doctored its membership register or has multiple registration risks being excluded from the election in accordance with Section 84 (13) of the Electoral Act.
Responding to an inquiry on the issue, Oyekan said, “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 read, “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.”
13 parties have yet to submit register
Barely three days to the deadline for the parties to submit their registers, only five 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.
“Five political parties have submitted their membership registers so far,” Oyekanmi said when asked on Wednesday how many parties have submitted.