CSOs calls on political parties to conduct credible presidential primaries

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CSOs to parties: conduct credible presidential primaries
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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on political parties to ensure fair and credible primaries in selecting their candidates.

The civil societies said this would engender positive democratic externalities within the context of the forthcoming civilian-to-civilian transition process in Nigeria.

In a joint statement, on Sunday in Abuja, the CSOs noted candidates must, among other things, emerge from credible, rules-based primaries in line with democratic standards.

The statement was jointly signed by Yiaga Africa; AfriPeace; CISLAC; Transition Monitoring Group; Centre for the Advocacy of Justice and Rights; Women in Nigeria and Zero Corruption Coalition.

They called on parties to collaborate with relevant law enforcement agencies to curtail the rather asinine monetization of the nomination process.

The statement reads: “As the country eagerly awaits the emergence of the Presidential flag bearers of most political parties, we wish to reiterate the strategic importance of fair and credible primaries in engendering positive democratic externalities within the context of the forthcoming civilian-to-civilian transition process in Nigeria.

“With less than a week to the June 9th deadline for the conduct of party primaries, CSOs reaffirm their earlier demand that candidates must, among other things, emerge from credible, rules-based primaries in line with democratic standards.

“Manipulated and stage-managed primaries remain antithetical to democratic ideals and must be prevented to the barest minimum. We thus call on political parties to nominate Presidential candidates to ensure they deliver Presidential Conventions that are not free and fair in the theoretical or abstract sense but in terms of intrinsic transparency and accountability in its accreditation, voting, and collation process.

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“We call on political parties to collaborate with relevant law enforcement agencies to curtail the rather asinine monetisation of the nomination process. The so-called ‘dollar rain’ needs to be brought to a definitive end, and delegates sensitized on the necessity of voting their conscience over primordial and pecuniary considerations. All political parties must consequently safeguard the sanctity of the secret ballot system by institutionalising binding transparency, anti-inducement and trust engendering measures that reinforces the confidence of all stakeholders in the primary election process.

“Such confidence in the electoral process will further be bolstered through more robust mechanisms such as banning handheld devices in the voting booths, accreditation of delegates, through the use of national identity cards, passports, driver’s licence or voter’s card as credible means of identification for the purposes of accreditation.

“The role of money as evident in the purchase of party nomination forms and the inducement of delegates as witnessed in the conduct of primaries by political parties, represents an ugly trend that is undermining the credibility and integrity of the electoral processes. These are clear violations of the electoral act, which requires INEC, the police, and the judiciary to act in ways that will enhance accountability and check impunity.

“As we collectively strive to build democratic institutions that would promote balanced and accelerated development, we urge INEC to enforce its regulatory powers against political parties that contravene provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC guidelines before, during, and after the primaries.”