The Peoples Democratic Party is running the risk of its candidates list being rejected by the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2015.
Investigations on Sunday showed that INEC might reject the PDP’s candidates list, if the party failed to correct anomalies already observed by the electoral commission on the election of members of the party’s National Working Committee.
INEC might refuse to have any dealing with an improperly constituted NWC. The commission had two weeks ago written the party, saying that 12 members of the NWC were not legally elected.
The letter was based on a report by a 12-member committee of INEC under the chairmanship of Col. M.K. Hammanga (retd.).
The commission had faulted the process adopted by the PDP to elect the 12 affected officials, arguing that their election violated provisions of paragraph 6.5 of the guidelines used for conducting the 2012 congresses and national convention of the party.
The NWC members, whose election was rejected by INEC, are the Deputy National Chairman, Sam Sam Jaja; National Organising Secretary, Abubakar Mustapha; National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh; Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Binta Goje; National Youth Leader, Garba Chiza; his Deputy, Dennis Alonge Niyi; Deputy National Auditor, Senator Umar Ibrahim; National Woman Leader; Kema Chikwe; her Deputy, Hannatu Ulam; deputy National Treasurer, Claudus Inengas; and the National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon.
The PDP has rejected the commission’s report, saying that it is aimed at destabilising the party.
When contacted, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said he would not comment on issues that were already in court.
“The issues raised by you are already in court and I can’t comment on matters that are already in court; I can’t,” he said.
But a top member of the Commission, who pleaded anonymity, said the commission had decided not to engage in a media war with the ruling party.
He noted that the NWC, which was constituted at the party’s national convention last year, would still be in office till 2015 when the general election would be conducted.
Citing Section 85 (3) of the 2010 Electoral Act, the INEC official said the implication of INEC’s report was that the NWC was not well constituted.
The section reads, “The election of members of the executive committee or other governing body of a political party, including the election to fill a vacant position in any of the aforesaid bodies, shall be conducted in a democratic manner and allowing for all members of the party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.”
The INEC official said, “If the PDP fails to hold a fresh national convention before 2015 to correct what we have observed in the emergence of the 12 NWC members, it means the committee is not legally constituted.
“We won’t accept their candidates list in 2015 or in any election in 2015. The only option open to the party is to hold a fresh national convention.”
Commenting on the controversy, two senior lawyers on Sunday said the INEC could reject parties’ candidates lists.
Prof Itse Sagay and Mallam Yusuf Ali, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, stressed that INEC’s duties should go beyond just organising elections.
Sagay advised that PDP should organise a fresh election to fill the 12 contentious positions in its NWC.
Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone, Sagay said, “INEC has to monitor any particular election organised by a political party.
“It also has the right to declare whether the election was regular or not.
“Elections conducted by the political parties have to be confirmed by INEC.
“It is in the Electoral Act.
“They (PDP) have to organise another election and invite INEC, and whatever irregularities that were observed should be corrected.”
On his part, Ali stressed the need for INEC to help stabilise the polity by playing a more effective role in monitoring the political parties.
Ali noted that the absence of internal democracy in the political parties meant that INEC should be able to call them to order.
He said PDP should consider INEC’s position on the election of the 12 NWC members.
Ali said, “An electoral body cannot just be a body that conducts elections.
“If you want to deepen democracy there must be other powers other than registration. INEC should also set standards.
“It should be able to say that x and y is not qualified to stand for elective office.
“There are issues over the credibility of people who stand for election and those who conduct election in the parties.
“Part of the problem is that parties do not have internal democracy and they cannot be left to their own devices.”