Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim

Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission against stampeding the various political parties over the conduct of their primaries.

According to him, the insistence of INEC that political parties must conclude their primaries before June 3, 2022, is not what the electoral body should impose.

He said it was hypocritical that INEC which had postponed many elections on the very day of election, would refuse to shift ground on the deadline for primaries.

“Party primaries are an integral part of the democratic process, and it is bewildering that INEC is not even interested in debates between aspirants, which remains a huge opportunity to define party platforms”, he said in a statement on Thursday.

Olawepo-Hashim, presidential candidate of Peoples Trust during the 2019 elections, said while the Electoral Act remained clear that political parties have 180 days to election to submit their nomination, which is in August, it seemed what “INEC wants is just for parties to gather somewhere and select candidates anyhow.”

He also argued that while INEC had the power to draw election timetable, it had no such power over the timetable for parties’ primaries.

“The timetable for primaries are the internal affairs of political parties, in so far as they do not violate the electoral act. The right for political parties to internally regulate themselves is an essential part of their freedom of association, in as much as their actions do not violate the constitution and the Electoral Act”, he said.

While insisting that democracy is a process and not an event, Olawepo-Hashim submitted that “it is therefore hypocritical that INEC that has postponed many elections on the very day of election, will now be insisting that her suggested dates of primaries, which are outside the provisions of the law, are sacrosanct.”

“We are in a testy transition process where flexibility is needed within the limits of the law. It is also amazing that everyone is keeping quiet about this whole thing, some sections of the media are justifying it and criticising the political parties for requesting for more time for their primaries,” he said.

Olawepo-Hashim also countered what he described as ‘the spurious argument that time is needed for dispute resolution in courts’ and wondered “when has it become the business of INEC to set up calendars for judicial matters that can go on for years into the tenure of the next administration.”