Kaduna APC LG Primaries 2021: A repeat of Zamfara 2019?
Abdulhaleem Ishaq Ringim
What transpired in the 2019 Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly Elections in Zamfara State is still fresh in our minds. This is so because it was an election in which the ruling party APC did not partake in, which led to the victory of the PDP in almost all seats including that of the Governor.
The APC failed to meet the deadline for the conduct of primary elections as stipulated by INEC. So in a letter to the APC titled “Failure To Conduct Party Primaries in Zamfara State Within The Stipulated Time Frame”, INEC notified the APC that it was not expecting any list of candidates from the APC for Zamfara State.
In the letter, INEC refered APC to sections 31 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended as legal backing for their position. Section 31(1) of the Act states that “Every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act, submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.”
And Section 87(1) states that “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.”.
In the letter, INEC reminded APC of the time table and schedules of activities of the 2019 elections. The letter further went on to explain that even while INEC’s officials were “fully mobilized and deployed”, the commission had it on good authority that primary elections did not hold. It was on that premise that INEC told APC that “the commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidates from Zamfara State.” The letter further stated that “For clarity, our position is that the All Progressives Congress (APC), will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara state for the 2019 for the general elections.”
And that was how the APC and all its candidates were declared ineligible to partake in the elections.
2 years after in Kaduna, same incidence is repeating itself, although at the local government elections level which Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission(KADSIECOM) oversees.
According to the time table served to parties and the public, Thursday 10th April to Monday 10th May were slated for the primary elections. However, primary election have not hold in some local governments like Zaria due to double postponement and in some other Local Governments, rerun elections were rescheduled also. Both fresh and rerun elections were slated for 12th of May which is a day after the deadline.
However, the party later on reversed its decision to hold such elections on the 12th of May. It communicated this development through a statement signed by Yahya Baba-Pate which stated that “The Kaduna State APC wishes to announce that the Party has reversed the decision to hold fresh and rerun primary elections in some local government areas tomorrow, 11th May 2021.”
Now, the provisions of the election laws in Kaduna State are quite similar to that of the Electoral Act of the Federation 2010 as amended. For example, section 26(1) of the KADSIECOM Law of 2018 states that “Every political party shall not later than 30 days before the date appointed for election under the provisions of this Law submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.”
But unlike the Electoral Act, the KADSIECOM Law is silent on Primary Elections. Infact, it is only in the local government councils elections guidelines 2021 that a paragraph talks about primary elections. Paragraph 4.2 of the guidelines states that “For the purpose of elections covered by Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission Law and these Guidelines, all Political Parties that wish to field candidates shall invite the Commission’s Electoral Official to observe the conduct of its party’s primaries in each Local Government Area of the State.”
The similarities in the two situations and the two laws have been established, however, I wonder why the SIECOM law is silent on primary elections.
This dilemma raises a question, ARE WE WITNESSING A REPEAT OF ZAMFARA 2019 considering Section 26(1) of KADSIECOM Law and Paragraph 4.2 of the elections guidelines or does the APC still have the time and legal avenue to make amends?
Abdulhaleem Ishaq Ringim is a political and public affairs analyst, he writes from Zaria and can be reached through [email protected]