FCT councils poll: ADC wants INEC to reconsider timetable

The African Democratic Congress (ADC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reconsider its timetable and schedule of activities for the FCT Area Councils election, scheduled for Feb. 12, 2022.

The party gave the advice in a letter addressed to the INEC Chairman and jointly signed by its National Chairman, Chief Ralphs Nwosu, and  National Legal Adviser, Peter Oyewole, on Wednesday.

The party expressed worry on the timing of the INEC timetable, especially the short notice and period given to political parties to conduct their primaries for the area council election.

It said that it was worrisome that INEC, in the timetable released on March 31, directed parties to conduct their primaries between April 1 and April 24, for an election holding in February 2022.

He wondered why parties have to go into  “impromptu” primary nomination exercise for an election which the winners would not be sworn in before May 29, 2022.

It said that INEC should understand that the process of getting quality candidates was more important than the election itself.

The ADC urged INEC to abide by recognised protocols, just and ethical practices for more efficient electoral system for FCT and the country.

The party noted that this was the first time since the emergence of the fourth Republic that INEC would not give political parties ample time to plan and host credible primary elections.

It stated that the Electoral Act 2010 provided for not later than 150 days and not earlier than 90 for the announcement of the election but the election, which would hold on Feb. 19, 2022, was announced on March 31 (which is almost a one-year gap).

“How can we conduct primary election between April 1 and 24 and parties and candidates will have to wait till November to commence campaigns.

“The party primaries for Anambra governorship election which comes up in November will be held in June and even the announcement was made three months ago by the same commission.

“So why this impromptu announcement and schedule of primaries in April for elections that will hold in February 2022?

“It was observed that political parties were not given adequate notice of the time table for the FCT area council election.

“How can the commission announce the elections on March 31 and order that primaries commence immediately and conclude within the month just to have the elected candidates seat without campaigning till Nov. 14?”,” it queried.

The ADC said it was a known fact that the Easter celebration took place from April 1 to April 6 for which the Federal Government declared public holidays on April 2nd and 5.

It added that the Ramadan month, a major Islamic calendar event, started around on April 12, and wondered how aspirants would campaign for primaries within the period.

It noted that the current FCT schedule ran contrary to election guides that had been in place for the 22 years of Nigeria democratic dispensation.

It added that expecting young contestants to run for primaries within just three weeks without prior notices for an election taking place in 2022 was “unwieldy” and it would expose the contestants, the parties and INEC to more spending which could affect election expenses, already considered to be bloated.

“We urge INEC to be transparent and be above board so that Nigerians will have confidence in the commission and the nation’s electoral system as this will benefit all stakeholders and the country.

“It is crucial to give sufficient time for aspirants to market themselves to get the candidacy of any of the parties.

“Also, there should time for constituencies to identify and select their preferred candidates in any party of their choice. People should not be made to spend all their fortunes trying to buy through any party.

“We appeal to you to follow a credible protocol so as not to make elections too expensive for quality young candidates, the political parties, even INEC and the government,” it said.

It added that the adoption of credible protocol in election regimen would reduce election violence, pre- and post-election court cases and allow for quality governance outcome for our democracy.

“Proceeding with the FCT council election guideline as it is presently, will only continue to complicate the perception of INEC before Nigerians and international public as incapable of conducting credible election.

“We seriously request you to reconsider your position for the good health of our democracy and country,” it added. (NAN)