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There were indications on Friday night that the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), may have been shifted from tomorrow to June 6 – 7, 2022.
The shift, according to sources close to the leadership of the party, stemmed from the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the deadline for the conclusion of party primaries by six days.
There was no official statement on the shift in convention date from the APC on Friday night. Speculation was rife that the agitation for extension of the timeline was instigated by the ruling APC whose leadership has been overwhelmed with logistics for the conduct of its presidential convention.
Investigation revealed that although the screening of the APC presidential aspirants commenced on Friday at an undisclosed location, there appears to be no indication that the convention would proceed as scheduled.
A party source told Saturday Tribune that composition and inauguration of Committees to drive the convention have not been put in place.
“Do you proceed to assemble party leaders and delegates at the Eagles Square without announcing committees and give them responsibility? No one knows what is going on inside the party’s national secretariat. Everything revolves round the national Chairman,” the source said.
Felix Morka, National Publicity Secretary of the APC could not be reached for comments as he refused to pick his calls.
Parties now have up till June 9, 2022 to conclude the primaries and submit nominations to the electoral body.
INEC’s decision was a response to a request from the 18 political parties for the extension of deadline for the conduct of primaries, conventions and submission of names of nominated candidates.
INEC took the position on Friday after a meeting with the leadership of the political parties held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
The 18 political parties eligible to field candidates in the forthcoming general elections were led to the meeting by the national chairman of the Action Democratic Party (ADP)and chairman of the InterParty Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr Sani Yabagi Yusuf Sani.
The ADP chairman, in his presentation, made a fresh request for a week extension. The commission, in a statement last night signed by the chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed that the commission had resolved to accede to the political parties’ demand as it was convinced that it would not in any way disrupt the timetable for the 2023 general elections.
The statement reads in part: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met with the leadership of political parties today, Friday, 27th May, 2022. Once again, the political parties requested the commission to review the timelines for political party primaries provided in the timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the 2023 general election released on Saturday, 26th February, 2022.
“Earlier, the political parties had requested for 37-60 days extension of the timeline for primaries and the nomination of candidates. The commission was emphatic that this request could not be granted because it would disrupt other scheduled activities on the timetable. This position of the commission has not changed.
“However, based on the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election, the parties have now pleaded with the commission to use the six-day period between 4th and 9th June, 2022 to conclude outstanding primaries and prepare to upload the list of candidates and their affidavits on the INEC candidates nomination portal.
“The commission did not schedule any specific activity during this period. The idea is to simply give parties time to compile the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates before uploading same to the INEC candidates nomination portal from 10th to 17th June, 2022.
“The commission has decided to allow the request of the political parties since the six-day period does not conflict with the next scheduled activity which is the submission of the list of nominated candidates or any of the subsequent timelines which remain sacrosanct.
“However, this request is granted in respect of outstanding primaries only without prejudice to those already concluded by political parties. The commission will not monitor already concluded primaries.”
Earlier, at the INEC’s office on Friday, National Chairman of Action Democratic Party who incidentally is the chairman of IPAC, Yabagi Yusuf Sani asked for a week extension.
Unlike their former request for 37 days extension, the political parties pleaded that the date is moved from June 3 to June 10.
Sani told the INEC Chairman that the window would allow the political parties to overcome overwhelming challenges which he noted already threatened the political parties’ ability to meet up with the June 3 deadline.
He said: “Mr Chairman, on behalf of my members, I want to thank you very much for giving us the very official time to meet with you once again on the issue of how the parties can collaborate with you to ensure that we have a very crisis-free election as we conduct our primaries.
“You remember that we wrote a letter to you immediately after our interactive session so that our request for you to kindly take a second look at the timetable which we consider tight in respect of the fact that we are putting this Electoral Act 2022 for the first time and the fact that anything you are doing for the first time, you may make some mistakes. And we feel that if we are given more time, we’ll be able to deliver on the promise of having a free and fair election as we conduct our primaries.
“This meeting is coming on the heels of the meeting which the leaders of political parties had, where we unanimously considered it very important to seek review of your commission in view of the critical intention to ensuring the processes leading to the 2023 general election within the framework of the new Electoral Act.
“In fact, we are very grateful to you because of the innovations that are brought to the electoral process and we want to be partners in progress and that is why we are asking you to consider and give us a little adjustment in the timetable to enable carry out this very important assignment.”