Two major opposition parties; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Africa Democratic Party (ADC) were conspicuously absent yesterday in Abuja, as other 54 parties signed the code of conduct ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The adoption and signing was witnessed by the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Prof. Anthonia Okorie-Simbine, after a two-day workshop on the validation of the code organised by the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
While the Deputy National Chairman (North) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, led the 54 others to sign the code, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 14 other parties were conspicuously absent at the event.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prof. Okoosi-Simbine, who represented the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured the parties of the commitment of the Commission to ensure a level playing ground for all political parties in the conduct of elections in the country.
Simbine said INEC remain committed to strengthening its internal systems and providing a level playing field for all political parties and candidates by ensuring the sustenance of a credible electoral environment.
She added that political parties, as principal actors in the electoral environment would, no doubt, play significant roles towards the success of the 2019 general elections and beyond.
“It is vital that political party leaders take their commitment to the code of conduct beyond the official signing of the document by translating the provisions of the code to visible actions that impact positively towards sustaining and enhancing the gains of Nigeria’s democratic evolution.
“By contributing to and signing the code of conduct, political parties have indeed committed to a pact with Nigerians that their activities will, going forward, be consistent with international best practices and enhance the confidence of citizens in our evolving democratic culture”, he said.
Simbine said INEC had been a significant partner at various stages of the evolution and development of the code of conduct with the technical and financial support of international development partners, particularly the UNDP/DGD project first, and now the European Center for Electoral Support (ECES).
She stressed that “although the principal objective of having a code of conduct for political parties was centered on the need to have a set of mutually agreed and acceptable behaviour and best practices that guide the conduct of political parties, their candidates and supporters, before, during and after elections, the code also became the instrument for the establishment of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) which without doubt, now plays a significant role as the umbrella body of all registered political parties.
“It is in this context that the Commission has remained committed to both encouraging political parties to abide by the tenets of the code of conduct as well as actively support the activities of IPAC towards attaining the ideal electoral environment that is characterised by a general commitment of all stakeholders to the entrenchment of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.”
The code of conduct sets the parameters of acceptable behavior for political parties, their candidates and their supporters throughout the electoral cycle.