By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) will conduct its primary today ahead of the November Anambra governorship election, the chairman, Chief Victor Oye said.
Those cleared to participate in the election are Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Barr Damian Okolo, a lawyer; ThankGod Ibe and Ezenwankwo Okwudili, both members of the House of Representatives.
“We wish to reassure our esteemed party faithful, stakeholders and indeed the general public that our great party is fully prepared to conduct its Governorship Primary Election already slated to hold on 23rd of June 2021,” Oye said.
The party, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Tex Okechukwu, made this announcement in response to a query from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had previously claimed that the party failed to notify it when it held its adhoc delegates congress to elect delegates for the primary.
The commission in a letter dated June 18, 2021, signed by its Secretary stated that APGA failed to notify the Commission of the adhoc delegates’ congress which the party conducted across the 326 wards in Anambra State on June 15th and 16th, respectively.
APGA in its notice on Tuesday responded that: “We wish to state categorically that the above position of the Commission is not in line with the dictates of section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, as well as a plethora of judicial authorities in that regard.
“Our party duly complied with requisite statutory notices envisaged under the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) as well as other requirements clearly outlined by INEC in its Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of political party primary elections published by INEC”.
INEC restated on Tuesday that APGA has not discharged itself of violating the electoral rule of informing the commission about its delegate congress.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Publicity and Voters’ Education, Mr. Festus Okoye told THISDAY that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) may not be allowed to participate in the November 6 governorship election over its non-compliance with Section 85 of the Electoral Act.
“On the 16th of June 2021 the party forwarded to the commission the list of delegates for its congress for the purpose of nominating its candidate for the said election.
“On the 18th June 2021, the Secretary to the Commission responded to the said letter and notified the party that it did not notify the commission of the date of the congress where the ad-hoc delegates were elected as required by Section 85 of the Electoral Act”
“By Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended), every registered political party is legally obligated to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 21 days’ statutory notice of its intention to organise any convention, congress, conference or meeting for the purpose of nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified in the Electoral Act.
“In the statutory notice given to the Commission, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) proposed June 23, 2021 for the conduct of its State Congress for the purposes of nominating its candidate for the Anambra State Governorship Election holding on the 6th of November 2021”, Okoye explained.
The INEC national commissioner said, “Based on its satisfaction of the 21-day statutory requirement for the holding of its congress, the Commission has concluded arrangements to monitor the said congress and will monitor the congress-taking place on the June 23, 2021.”
Okoye said that prior to the letter of the June 18, 2021, the Commission on the June 3, 2021 drew the attention of all the political parties of the imperative of complying with all constitutional and legal requirements for the conduct of party primaries as the commission is obligated to keep records of the activities of all registered political parties.
He stated that “political parties must remain within the confines of the law and legality in the conduct of their primaries and avoid issues and challenges that may complicate the due conduct of elections.
“However, aspirants, candidates and parties that are aggrieved by the actions, decisions or activities of the Commission, or who complain that any of the provisions of the Electoral Act or any Act of the National Assembly regulating the conduct of primaries of political parties and the provisions of the guidelines of a political party for the conduct of party primaries has not been complied with can approach the courts for redress.
“Political parties must conduct due diligence on the list and personal particulars of their candidates and ensure that party members remain the sole determinants of those that are nominated. Violating the law and the guidelines for the conduct of party primaries will only set the stage for acrimonious primaries and avoidable judicial intervention,” he said