The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised political parties to follow electoral guidelines and party principles in the conduct of their primaries for the Anambra Governorship election scheduled for Nov. 28. Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Elections and Party Monitoring Committee, gave the advice in an interview with the Newsmen on Sunday in Abuja. Okoosi-Simbine said it was important for the parties to conduct their primaries in ways and manners stipulated by their constitutions and other regulations.
She said part of INEC job was to register and regulate political parties. “”The only way we can regulate political party is to make sure that they follow the contents of the law they themselves brought forward to us as the guiding principles for all their activities. “”So we will like them to follow that before coming to us, because many elections in the 2015 general elections were thrown out because primaries were badly conducted. “”When primaries were badly conducted and the court quashes such elections, the party involved will have no opportunity to take part in the re-run, meaning that the party has lost at the end. “We will love them to do their primaries according to the rules and regulations guiding their various political parties. “They should allow the will of their members to prevail,’’ she said. She said that wrongly conducted primaries had its effects on the commission and the nation in terms of extra cost and time needed for the conduct of a rerun. Okoosi-Simbine said such primaries also had negative effects on the political parties. She said that primaries not conducted in line with the stipulated principles may lead to disagreement and factions within a party.
Asked on measures in place by INEC to effectively monitor primaries as well as ensure that the parties keep to the rules, Okoosi-Simbine said that the commission was working on modality that would ensure that correct things were done. This according to her include the organising of sensitisation workshops for parties national officials as well working on a modality to ensure that primaries were properly conducted and their outcome respected. The modality according to Okoosi-Simbine is to ensure that results of primaries are signed by all key stakeholders of the elections. “Yes it is our duty to monitor primaries but if you check properly, it is not mandatory. “If we monitor, all the better. If we are not there, it does not nullify the primaries. But our presence gives it additional legitimacy.” Okoosi-Simbine said that even after monitoring the process, the party was expected to make a submission to the commission. She added that in a situation where the process was monitored by INEC and a different report was submitted to the commission, it would be easier for the commission to make its decision.
“However, we are doing our best to get to a situation where we can give the party a form where everybody in the small electoral body set up by the party will sign. “All the candidates that contest will also sign that this is actually the outcome of the primaries.