Perhaps because it was worried about likely nullification of its primaries by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday adjusted its timetable for its primaries.
The adjustment was meant to keep to INEC guidelines for primaries and to avoid a repeat of Zamfara 2019 episode when APC lost the governorship seat to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In line with its guidelines, INEC directed the parties to submit list of delegates for all elective offices to it seven days to the date of the primary.
As at press time yesterday, APC was getting ready its list of delegates which may have been submitted last night or will be submitted today .
To meet up with INEC timeline of seven days, APC has fixed the commencement of its primaries for May 26, beginning with those of governorship and House of Representatives.
The party had fixed its governorship primaries for tomorrow, but moved it to May 26 as the five delegates per ward that would join the statutory delegates for the primaries were elected yesterday.
The three delegates per local government that will join the statutory delegates to vote in the presidential primaries will be elected today after which the list of delegates will be compiled by the National Working Committee (NWC) and forwarded to INEC to meet its requirement that such a list must be submitted to it seven days to the primaries. .
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “As at the time the National Working Committee of APC met yesterday, the party was yet to comply with the guidelines for primaries, especially submission of the list of delegates within seven days to any primary.
“The party was just getting its list of delegates ready yesterday. One of the implications of not meeting the seven-day timeline is that the primaries of APC at all levels may be nullified. We cannot afford this luxury because INEC refused to pander to the request of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) to alter the timetable for 2023 poll.
“Some legal experts claimed that the guidelines are not legally binding. But party leaders warned against losing 2023 poll on technical grounds. A case of what happened to APC in Zamfara was cited.
“A few others cautioned against the danger of being in court till the last minutes to the next general election over avoidable problem. They said since INEC is a regulator, no party can defy it. They raised the alarm that the opposition PDP is waiting in the wings to take APC to the cleaners in court.
“The NWC, which also exercises the powers of the National Executive Committee of the party, decided to adjust the timetable for the primaries to adhere to INEC guidelines.”
Asked about the shrinking of the timetable for presidential primaries, the source added: “The adjustment cuts across all elective offices. We want to conduct all activities within the seven-day timeline.”
A statement by National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Felix Morka, a lawyer, gave the details of the adjusted schedule.
But Morka was silent on why the party amended its timetable for primaries.
The statement said: ”The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, 18th of May, 2022, approved and adjusted timetable/schedule of Activities for the Governorship, State House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and Presidential Primaries and Appeals as follows:
Governorship and House of Representatives – Thursday, 26th of May, 2022
Senate and House of Assembly – Friday, 27th of May, 2022
Special Convention, Sunday 29th – Monday, 30th of May, 2022
For election appeals, the dates are Governorship and House of Representatives ( Friday, 27th of May, 2022) and Senate and House of Assembly(Saturday, 28th of May, 2022)
The Nation exclusively reported on Tuesday that INEC had finally foreclosed the adjustment of election timetable which made parties, which were expecting a formal letter from INEC, to sit up
In line with its guidelines, INEC has also directed the parties to submit list of delegates for all elective offices to it seven days to the date of the primary.
The guidelines read in part: “In compliance with Article 4.5.1 of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Political Party Primaries, a political party that adopts the indirect primary mode, shall make available to the commission not later than seven days to the date of the primary, the list of persons that will form the delegates that are eligible to vote for nomination of the party candidate to contest every elective position. “
“The list of delegates shall be accompanied with the list of aspirants and the list of the party Electoral panel conducting the primary.
“In compliance with Section 84(9-11) of the Electoral Act 2022, a political party that adopts the Consensus Primary mode shall make available to the commission copies of the written consent of all aspirants cleared for the position indicating their endorsement of the consensus candidate who shall then be ratified by a special congress or convention
“In compliance with Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022, primaries and voting by members or delegates of a political party to nominate candidates for elective positions shall hold at designated centres within the respective national, state, senatorial, federal and state constituencies.
“Primaries held outside designated constituencies shall accordingly be invalid.”