Against speculations of caving in to pressure from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s electoral umpire, INEC, says it will not extend the deadline set for political parties’ primary elections.
In its timetable and schedule of activities released in February for the 2023 General Election, the commission had slated April 4 to June 3 for the election of flag bearers of all political parties for the 2023 elections.
With about 28 days to the deadline, the nation’s leading political parties, APC and PDP, appear not ready for their primaries. While APC is still selling nomination forms to aspirants, PDP is screening eligible aspirants.
However, the two major parties are reportedly lobbying INEC to shift the dates.
In an unusual rush, not less than 23 and 17 persons have respectively shown interest in the presidential tickets of the ruling APC and the PDP.
As at Thursday 15 aspirants have made payment of N100 million each for the presidential contest in the APC while more than half of the number have obtained the same forms at N40 million in the PDP.
With the growing number of aspirants and agitations on zoning of the top seat, leaders of both parties are under immense pressure to handle the matter with care or risk full blown crises
However, INEC, in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, on Thursday, warned political parties against daring its resolution on the fixed deadline.
“Given the importance of the exercise to the emergence of candidates for the various elective positions for the 2023 General Election, it is imperative to remind political parties that they have one month from today to conclude their primaries. The deadline remains Friday 3rd June 2022. While urging the parties to ensure a rancour-free and transparent exercise, the Commission reiterates that the deadline is firm and fixed.
“Nominations for Presidential and National Assembly elections shall be submitted through the INEC web portal from 10th to 17th June 2022 while Governorship and State Houses of Assembly nominations shall be submitted between 1st and 15th July 2022,” Okoye said.
The commission also confirmed the full compliance of the 18 political parties in the country to section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The section mandates all political parties to notify the commission on dates for their conventions, congresses, and primaries for the purpose of nominating candidates for various elective offices.
While both the PDP and APC have not clearly disclosed where they intend to zone the presidential seat to, the dates for the primaries tentatively remain May 28 and 29 for the former and 31 for the latter.