CSOs Should Monitor Political Parties’ Primaries – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on civil society organisations (CSOs) to pay more attention to the affairs of political parties and their primary elections.
The Chairman of the commission, Yakubu Mammud, said this on Friday during the presentation of the final 2019 general election observation report by YAIGA Africa in Abuja.
Mr Mammudu, who was represented by Muhammed Haruna, a National Commissioner of INEC, responded to the recommendations and findings by the election monitoring group on the 2019 general elections.
INEC conducted the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, while the governorship and state assembly elections were held on March 9. Supplementary elections in five states were also held in March.
However, for the offseason elections, INEC had earlier announced plans for the upcoming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections. The elections will hold simultaneously in the two states on November 16. Parties’ governorship primaries in both states are expected to have ended by September 5.
Mr Haruna said only a few political parties had conducted the primaries a few days to the deadline for the exercise.
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cleared 13 Kogi governorship aspirants through a Screening Committee headed by the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku.
The party also cleared 21 governorship aspirants to run for its ticket in Bayelsa.
The INEC commissioner, Mr Haruna, also urged the CSO’s across the country to always keep a close watch on how political parties conduct their internal elections.
He said lateness of submission of names and details of candidates would affect the printing of ballot papers and results sheets ahead of polls.
”In many of the CSO’s reports on the conduct of the 2019 general elections that I have seen, they have not yet sufficiently focused much attention on political parties. But the primaries to every election are very important that CSO’s need to begin to focus much on these party primaries as they do before and their activity towards the conduct of general elections entirely.
”Actually, not many CSO’s have done that. Right now, a few days to the deadline for submission for the conduct of the offseason Kogi and Bayelsa state governorship election primaries; only a few have conducted their primaries.
”And these delays always affect how we prepare with the printing of ballot and result sheets because we do not have the list of how many parties are contesting.
”We urge and want to believe that the CSOs would be willing to really hold political parties to account on how they run their affairs and especially how they conduct their primary elections.”
However, Cynthia Mbamalu, the Programme Manager, YIAGA Africa, in her response, said observer groups do not get INEC accreditation to observe and monitor political primaries elections.
She said political parties leverage on the system by choosing who to monitor their elections.
The programme manager also accused political parties of seeing their elections as a party affair rather than a national affair that citizens should have an interest in and should be granted access to observe the process.
”Parties should realise that observation of their primaries is not an attempt to indict or attack but is for the good of the party in general.
She said the recommendation gathered from observer groups would help parties promote or institutionalise an internal democratic process.
Ms Mbamalu called for an electoral reform that would give INEC power to accredit election monitoring groups to observe political party primaries.
”Political parties can no longer refer to primaries as there party affair but rather a national affair that citizens should have an interest and should be granted access to observe that process.
”And the truth be told, parties have created new ways because when you do not grant access to observer groups and list of candidates is submitted to INEC or list of delegates, it is easy to manipulate the process before t that are our challenges focusing on party primaries.
”As for Kogi and Bayelsa, we are still battling with some of these challenges, however, we are looking at how well we can observe that.
”Parties needs to open up their systems and processes to grant access to observer groups. It is also a call to start considering an electoral reform that would give power to INEC to give accreditation to observer groups to be able to observe party primaries,” she said.
Yekini Nabena, the APC national deputy publicity secretary, in a telephone interview said that he was not in Kogi State and would not know if the party accreditated any observer group its primaries there.
Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP spokesperson, could not be reached via his known telephone number when this report was filed.
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