By Jide Ajani:

Party primaries ahead of next year’s presidential, governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections are expected to commence in May in accordance with the time table for the elections, Sunday Vanguard can reveal.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is supervising the elections is also set to confront political parties that fail to adhere strictly to their own guidelines for the emergence of candidates.

Also, consequent upon the detected compromise of the Voters’ Register just before the Anambra governorship elections of last month, Sunday Vanguard has also discovered that INEC plans to carry out a massive clean up of the Voters’ Register in the country.

Already, a stakeholders’ conference has been scheduled for Abuja, this week.
An INEC source said: “based on the time-table that we have before us, it would be expected that the political parties would commence preparations for their primaries with a view to electing their candidates for next year’s election”.

“With the proposed time-table, it is expected that the parties would commence in earnest their primaries, at least by May, this year, so that whatever litigations that may arise from the process would be dealt with before the actual elections”.

Besides, it was gathered that party guidelines for primaries would be a focal concern of INEC and the Commission is said to be set to take on parties which fail to follow its own set of rules for the emergence of candidates.

“It is time for parties to know that once their own primaries are compromised through illegal actions of the National Executive Committees, NEC, or state executive members, it would create its own crisis for the eventual elections because acrimony arising therefrom would be carried into the elections”, Sunday Vanguard was told by an INEC top shot.

Another issue the Commission will be addressing preparatory to next year’s election would be an early massive clean up of the Voters’ Register.

Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the Anambra election of February 6, 2010, was almost marred by the mix-up in the Voters’ Register.

It was learnt that the 10 staff of INEC sacked just before the elections were discovered to be involved in a systematic compromise of the register as influenced by politicians in the state.  The clean up of the register created some hiccups.
“This time”, Sunday Vanguard was told by the INEC top shot, , “we are ready to ensure that the register is rid of fictitious names and photographs that do not have any place in the document”.

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