Indications have emerged that the Independent National Electoral Commission may bow to pressure from political parties seeking the extension of the June 3 deadline for the conduct of primary elections.
The commission, which had insisted that it would not tamper with the timetable for the 2023 elections, may finally succumb to the demand of the political parties by extending the deadline by one week.
At a meeting with the commission on Friday in Abuja, the leadership of the 18 registered political parties under the aegis of Inter-Party Advisory Council restructured their demand and appealed to INEC to shift the deadline by one week.
IPAC had earlier sought a two-month extension, a demand which was vehemently rejected by the commission.The National Chairman of IPAC, Yabagi Sani, at the parley in Abuja, urged INEC to take a second look at the timetable, which he said the commision considered tight in respect of the fact the new Electoral Act 2022 is being put to use for the first time.
“And the fact is that anything one is doing for the first time, you may make some mistakes. And we feel that if we’re given more time, we’ll be able to deliver on the promise of having free and fair elections as we conduct our primaries.
“This meeting is coming on the heels of the meeting which the leaders of political parties had, where we unanimously considered it very important to seek another round of thoughts of your commission in view of the timetable.We are very grateful to you because of the innovations that you have brought to the electoral process and we want to be partner in progress, that is why we are asking you to consider giving a little adjustment in the timetable to enable us carry out this important assignment,” Sani said.
Also, the national chairman, Zenith Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, while reiterating the stance of the IPAC chairman, said the “window” would enable them to carry out the task ahead of them perfectly.
“What we are pleading is to give us time and move it within June 3 and June 9 which is the deadline for the submission of names of candidates that emerge from primaries. This is to ensure that we put our house in order,” he said.We asked for 30 days, you refused us. We asked for two months, you also refused. So we are asking for this small window,” he added.
The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in his response, reiterated the commission’s stance of not changing its June 3 deadline for the primaries of the 18 political parties.
Yakubu said the meeting was distinct from its regular consultative meeting because it was specifically requested by the political parties.
“And the commission has obliged the parties accordingly. We just heard from the chairman of IPAC who, on behalf of the political parties, has once again requested a review of our election timelines.It appears that the proposition this time around is different from the request made by IPAC for which the commission has responded emphatically that an extension between 30 and 60 days will not be entertained. In view of the overlapping activities.
“It appears that the parties have now presented a more defined request for what the chairman calls for a little adjustment.”
Yakubu added that a statement will be issued after a working session with the parties.