The immediate past Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State and an aspirant of the party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state, Hon. Isaacs Kekemeke, on Wednesday, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shift the date for the conduct of party primaries in the state by one month.
Kekemeke who made this call for extension said the call became imperative to allow politicians in the state to put their house and campaign in order following the disruption and havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that INEC was right on its decision to conduct the elections as scheduled, saying going by the electoral laws and the Nigeria constitution, but urged INEC to be flexible to enable politicians to cover lost grounds due to the lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19.
He noted that INEC can afford to shift the election by one month between October 10 and November 23 to conduct the elections as the date of inauguration of a new government in the state is February 24, 2021.
Speaking on the call for online campaigns, Kekemeke who said the country is not ripe for such, cautioned INEC not to engage in acts capable of disenfranchising people from participating in the electoral process.
According to him, “In the case of Ondo, INEC still has a window of one month between October 10 and November 23 to cover for lost grounds.
“It can add a one-month extension to cover for what it lost to enable parties to prepare adequately for these elections. This is in order for us to have an effective democracy.
“We must not hinder or hamper the effective participation of the people. People are an important factor. There must be adequate time to mobilise them, there must be adequate time to sensitise them, there must be adequate time for parties to finish with their internal preparations and for them to move around.
“If two months have been lost and we still have a window of one month why don’t we add it to make us do what we want to do.
“When I heard the speculations about the online campaign I laughed because I asked the question, what is the literacy percentage of Nigerians? How many people are online? They must not do anything that will disenfranchise the people.
“I think they need to work with the Presidential Task Force of the federal government to work out more practicable modalities of engaging the people while obeying the protocols that demand social distances and reduces crowd and encourage the wearing of face mask.
“In Ondo what majority of stakeholders want is direct primaries. The reason is because there have been controversies on the emergence of party officials and the way and manner party officials emerge.
“There has not been a cohesive party leadership that is inclusive. We need to mobilise our party members again by their participation in the aspirant selection process. We need to carry along very many interest groups in the party. We need a direct primary.”