As a continuation of ongoing review of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Monday told political parties to comply with extant sections of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and submit election expenses to the commission.
The commission said three months after the elections, none of the parties complied with section 93(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which requires the parties to disclose their material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies.
The commission also reminded political parties to comply with the Section 92(3) of the Electoral Act which enjoins them to submit audited returns of their election expenses within 6 months after an election.
INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said this in Abuja at a meeting with the political parties.
While the parties were still within the timeframe provided by law, only one of them had done that thus far.
Yakubu also said only one presidential candidate submitted financial expenses report for the elections, reminding the party leaders to fulfil their obligations under the law.
“It is important to remind us that as we review the 2019 general elections in order to identify successes, challenges and the way forward, we should also ask ourselves the extent to which we have complied with the extant laws.
“I wish to remind you that the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) requires each political party to submit two election expenses reports to the commission. First is the disclosure of material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies three months after the announcement of the results of the general elections as provided for in Sec. 93(4) of the Electoral Act. So far, no political party is in compliance.
“Secondly, parties are required to submit audited returns of their election expenses within six months after an election as provided for in Sec. 92(3) [a] of the Electoral Act. Although we are still within the time frame provided by law, so far only one party has filed its returns.
“Similarly, the commission notes that only one presidential candidate has submitted financial expenses report. We wish to remind leaders of political parties of their obligations under the law.”
Bayelsa, Kogi, gov polls
Preparatory to the governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi states November 16, the INEC chairman also challenged the political parties to build their capacities for internal party democracy, voter mobilisation and financial procedures to reduce acrimony resulting in several litigations within the parties.
He said stakeholders should adhere strictly to timetable for the primaries scheduled between 18th August and 5th September 2019.
He also told them to ensure the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates is transparent and democratic in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act as well as our regulations and guidelines.
“The commission expects strict compliance by all parties that wish to nominate candidates for the elections. No nomination arising from primaries conducted after the deadline will be accepted by the commission,” the INEC chairman said.
Yakubu, however, said only “three political parties have given notices indicating the dates for their primaries for both Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections”, asking party leaders to do the needful.
He further said: “In doing so, you should indicate not only the dates but also venues and time for the primaries.
“I urge you to avoid persistent rescheduling of your primaries or late minute change of venue which sometimes disenfranchise your members and make effective monitoring by the commission difficult.
“Where political parties opt for direct primaries, there should be proper register of members otherwise it will amount to conducting an election without the voters’ register.”
He said while preparations for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa were ongoing, the commission was also preparing for a bye-election in Plateau state.
“Late last week, we received the declaration of vacancy from the Speaker of the state House of Assembly in respect of Pengana state constituency following the death of its elected member shortly after he was declared winner in the state assembly elections held nationwide on 9thMarch 2019.
“This will be the first bye-election so soon after the general elections and barely a month after the inauguration of the state assembly. A date will be announced by the Commission before the end of this week.”
IPAC on party registration
Responding on behalf of the political parties, National Chairman Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) Peter Ameh called for more stringent conditions for the registration of political parties.
Ameh said registered political parties should be allowed to attain their potential instead of registering and deregistering which would deprive the parties of development.
“But sincerely, in our view, we believe that the registration requirement for association seeking to be registered as political party should be made more stringent and reviewed immediately instead of registering and deregistering which will deprive the parties to develop and attain their full potential organically.”
He said:”It is important that parties maintain a regular rapport with government agencies and institutions established for purposes of regulating conduct of parties and their members and in the conduct of elections as well as the Nigerian public.”
He enjoined the parties to do more on voter education
Ameh also said the commission should be allowed to concentrate solely on elections as its name suggests, saying it would serve Nigerians more efficiently by so doing.
The council therefore recommended that statutory provisions be made for the establishment of two commissions namely; Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission and the Electoral Offences Commission.
On the problems associated with transportation of electoral materials, IPAC said it should be outsourced to a reputable company.
On vote collation and transmission, Ameh said “it’s important for us not to completely surrender the full gamut of our vote transmission process into full electronic system and the danger therein in doing so, the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, proposing a dual transmission process for election results, the commission should go full electronic while we still retain our old collation method from PUs, ward, LGA, State and Federal level to serve as fallback plan.”
To promote the issue of inclusivity and ensure the full participation of women in our body politics, IPAC proposed at least 35 percent affirmative action plan insertion as clause for any association seeking registration as a political party.
Ameh further said: “We have also recommended proportional representation for National and State Assembly elections. This is because we all know that some stronger parties deploy all sort tactics to ensure victory for their candidates but the other political parties also score in many cases, very high number of votes.
“Proportional representation will ensure that these votes get the parties some seats instead of the present winner -takes -all and loser-loses-everything situation that has made our elections a war theater.
“Also, as we improve on the credibility of our democracy, the care of human life and happiness which is the first and only object of good governance through democratic process will be better realised.”