Sixteen political parties have officially informed the Independent National Commission (INEC) of their plans to participate in the upcoming Edo governorship election. The parties have also communicated their chosen modes and dates for primaries, with the final submissions scheduled for February 24. This information was disclosed by Sam Olumekun, INEC national commissioner and chairman of the information and voter education committee, in a statement released yesterday.
Olumekun emphasized that Edo State is the focus of the election, and the commission is prepared to deploy monitoring teams to ensure a smooth electoral process. He urged political parties to conduct primaries in accordance with their constitutions and guidelines, emphasizing the need to avoid contentious situations that may lead to a breakdown of law and order.
The statement highlighted that political parties are required, by Section 82(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, to give INEC at least 21 days’ notice before the scheduled date for their primaries. This notification deadline expired on February 4, 2024. Olumekun encouraged parties to refrain from unnecessary delays, changes in venue, alterations to delegates’ lists, or the submission of names that did not emerge from valid primaries, as these issues often result in pre-election litigations.
The proposed schedules, including dates and modes of primaries, have been made public on the Commission’s website and social media platforms for transparency and information dissemination.
In a related development, INEC assured that lessons learned from the 2023 general elections would be applied to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections. Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, stated on the Politics Today program on Channels TV that the Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation Machine System (BIVAS) is here to stay, enhancing the voter accreditation process. He addressed glitches in the electronic transmission during the 2023 general election, assuring that these issues have been resolved, and improvements have been made.
Oyekanmi noted that BIVAS and INEC’s Result Viewing (ReV) portal (IREV) have been successfully used in subsequent elections, including governorship elections, without legal challenges. Responding to intra-party conflicts, he urged political parties to address internal issues, highlighting that INEC can intervene through its alternative conflict resolution mechanism upon invitation. Oyekanmi acknowledged the scrutiny INEC faces on social media but assured that any official found wanting would face consequences.