A Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim has cautioned the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu to stop his meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of political parties which was demonstrated in the “unnecessary haste to pass judgement over who is to be the chair of the All Progressive Congress, APC and what process to follow.”

In a statement released by his media office in Abuja on Saturday, the former Presidential Candidate explained that “INEC is not a court of law and neither is Yakubu a school principal to bark out orders to political parties that he considers as his students.”

Last Friday, the INEC rejected the notice for an emergency meeting of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC). INEC secretary, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, confirmed the commission’s decision in a letter dated March 9, 2022, and addressed to the party’s national chairman

“The commission draws your attention to the fact that the notice for the meeting was not signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the CECPC contrary to the provision of the Article 1.1.3 of the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for Political Party Operations (2018),” said Oriaran-Anthony.

But according to Olawepo-Hashim, “the invitation to observe a meeting of the APC is not an occasion to give lectures on how the party should run, they were merely invited to observe.

He added that “INEC could just have stayed away. It will not have invalidated the meeting. Under the constitution of parties deputies can call meetings where authorised officials are not available.

“A third of membership of any party organ can call a meeting. It is not just chairman and secretaries of parties that can call meetings. There is something fishy about INEC actions. It is like INEC is working a script to complicate things for the APC”

The APC Chieftain also maintained that INEC’s hastily rolled out election time table which stipulates that all parties must conduct their primaries between April and June is suspicious and could have been designed to favour some political interests contrary to the spirit and provisions of electoral Act 2022 which stipulates that nomination must close at least 180 days to election.

“180 days to election is September 2022 not June.

“Inspite of many good provisions of the electoral act 2022, it carries many obnoxious provisions that impugne on citizens political rights as well as freedom of Association.

“Some of the provisions of INEC guidelines are equally defective. All the various provisions may soon be tested by aggrieved parties and such challenges have reasonable grounds of success.

“Nigeria is a democracy not an autocracy, ” he said.

According to him, it is obvious that the “APC that will be conducting its national convention at the end of March cannot in all good judgement and fairness, be expected to start conducting primaries in April except someone somewhere is playing to a script, adding that “INEC’s power to make electoral guidelines cannot override the independent rights of political parties to conduct their internal affairs including when to go for primaries as long as it does not violate the electoral Act.”

He congratulated the Acting APC chairman and the governors who are working round the clock to save the party by focusing the party attention towards the scheduled march 26th convention of the party.

“We congratulate the newly sworn in state chairmen who are the eyes and ears of the party at the grassroots we call on them to cooperate with Governor Bello to save the party and position it for victory in the 2023 polls,” he said.

Olawepo-Hashim also counselled the new acting Chairman to seek advice from knowledgeable politicalu leaders on party administration and not reduce the running of the party to an exclusive affairs of Governors who ordinarily should be too busy running their states.

“It is the tendency to want to run the party in that manner, which is inconsistent with our democratic history that has led the party to where it is in the first instance,” he concluded.

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