By Chuks Okocha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday listed its lines of protocols and communications with 15 political parties that would be participating in the Edo and Ondo states’ gubernatorial elections and declared that it would only honour communications from the national chairmen and national secretaries of these parties in accordance with its rules, regulations and laws.
INEC also stated that it would recognise only the date, venue and type of party primaries that would be submitted to it by the national chairman and national secretary of the parties, irrespective of whatever that might be happening in the state chapters of the APC.
The electoral commission stated that Section 222 of the 1999 Constitution as amended said that only the national chairmen and national secretaries are recognised when parties are registered.
The commission also said that Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act stated the lines of communication between the parties and the INEC.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, explained yesterday that the provisions of the laws, rules and regulations permitted the electoral commission to communicate only with the national chairmen and national secretaries of political parties.
Okoye said that only the APC has chosen direct primaries out of the 15 political parties for the selection of their respective candidates He said: “It is strictly the business of political parties to choose what mode of primary they want to adopt as long as they follow their own constitution.
“INEC does not deal with state branches of political parties in matters relating to or connected with the conduct of party primaries. In our rules and regulations, the letter to this effect is signed by the national chairmen and national secretaries of political parties indicating the date, time and venue for the conduct of party primaries and the mode of the primaries.
“The mode of primaries to be adopted by political parties is a function of their constitution, the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the regulations and guidelines issued by INEC.
“Either way, the commission will not and cannot dictate to political parties the mode of primaries to adopt. It is strictly a party affair.”
The two factions of the APC in Edo State, led by Governor Godwin Obaseki and the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, have been engaged in squabbles over the type of primary that would be used to elect the party’s flagbearer for the September 19, 2020, governorship election in the state.
While Oshiomhole’s camp, which was alleged to be supporting the factional state Chairman of APC, Mr.
David Imuse, has been insisting on direct primary, the Obaseki-led faction of the party has ruled out direct primaries for the selection of the governorship candidate of the party.
Oshiomhole, in a letter to the INEC that was dated May 19, 2020, stated that the party had chosen the direct primaries for the selection of its governorship candidate for the September election.
The State APC Chairman of the Obaseki-led faction, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, said the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party has already chosen the indirect primaries and alleged that the National Executive Committee (NEC) through the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party headed by Oshiomhole is working to impose direct primaries on the state chapter of the party in order to oust Obaseki.