17 parties settle for indirect primaries in Ondo ― INEC

• As Commission warns against divisive campaigns in Edo

All the 17 political parties seeking to field candidates for the Ondo State governorship election slated for October have settled for the indirect option as a mode of their primaries.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, gave the disclosure in a statement, on Thursday, in Abuja.

Okoye who revealed that 18 political parties had earlier notified the electoral body of their intention to field candidates for the October election, however, hinted that one of the parties, “the Boot Party did not give any notification of its intention to conduct primaries for the Ondo Governorship election.”

He further disclosed in the statement that political parties must submit a comprehensive list of all the delegates eligible to participate in their primaries, 7 days before the scheduled date.

In compliance with precautionary measures against the pandemic, Coronavirus, the Commission insisted in the statement that parties must ensure that no delegate was allowed to vote without the use of face mask.

“By Section 87 (2) of the Electoral Act, Political Parties have the exclusive discretion to determine the procedure for the nomination of candidates which shall be by Direct or Indirect primaries and all the 17 Political Parties notified the Commission of their intention to conduct Indirect Primaries for the nomination of their candidates.

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“Political Parties are reminded that they are required to submit a comprehensive list of all the delegates eligible to participate in the primaries at least 7 days before the scheduled date.

“The INEC portal for uploading nomination forms will open on 21st July and close on at 6 pm on 28th July 2020. We urge Political Parties not to wait till the last day before submitting the names of their nominated candidates as

“Political Parties must observe all the health protocols and guidelines made available to them by the Commission, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the State Government.

They must also enforce the policy of “No Mask, No Voting” in their primaries.”

Ahead of the September election in Edo state, the electoral body warned all the 14 political parties who had conducted their primaries to ensure that their candidates restrict themselves to issue-based campaigns and refrain from “inflammatory rhetoric and disruptive behaviour capable of breaching the peace.”

Okoye noted that as “campaigns begin, campaign councils rather than candidates and party manifestoes are taking centre stage.”

The statement restated INEC concern that in canvassing for votes, parties and their candidates must adhere strictly to its policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as the Regulations and Guidelines governing same.

The statement further read in part: “Political parties are hereby reminded that in canvassing for votes, they must comply with the Commission’s policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as the Regulations and Guidelines governing same. They must also comply with the guidelines issued by health authorities.

“At the same time, parties are enjoined to conduct issue-based campaigns in accordance with the Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Commission. They should appeal to their supporters to shun inflammatory rhetoric and disruptive behaviour capable of breaching the peace. The election is an opportunity for the people of Edo State to choose among the 14 candidates in the contest. The Commission is concerned that as campaigns begin, campaign councils rather than candidates and party manifestoes are taking centre stage. The election should be a contest of ideas and programmes for the people of Edo to make informed decisions for the development of their State.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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