The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was, however, absent from the signing ceremony.
The event, which took place after a two-day workshop on the validation of the code organised by the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), was witnessed by the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in charge of Election and Party Monitoring, Prof. Anthonia Okorie-Simbine.
The Deputy National Chairman (North) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, led representatives of 53 other political parties, including the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Labour Party (LP), to sign the revised code.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), on the other hand, led the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and 21 parties who were absent at the event.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prof. Okorie-Simbine, who represented the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured the parties of the commitment of the Commission to ensuring a level playing field for all political parties in the conduct of elections in the country.
Okorie-Simbine said INEC remained committed to strengthening its internal systems for the sustenance of a credible electoral environment.
She noted that political parties, as principal actors in the electoral environment, would play significant roles towards in the success of 2019 general elections and others that would be held after.
According to her, “it is vital that political party leaders take their commitment to the code of conduct beyond the official signing of the document by translating the provisions of the code to visible actions that impact positively towards sustaining and enhancing the gains of Nigeria’s democratic evolution.
“By contributing to and signing the code of conduct, political parties have indeed committed to a pact with Nigerians that their activities will, going forward, be consistent with international best practices and enhance the confidence of citizens in our evolving democratic culture.”
Okorie-Simbine said INEC had been a significant partner at various stages of the evolution and development of the code of conduct, with technical and financial support of international development partners, particularly the UNDP/DGD project first, and now the European Center for Electoral Support (ECES).
She said: “Although the principal objective of having a code of conduct for political parties was centered on the need to have a set of mutually agreed and acceptable behaviour and best practices that guide the conduct of political parties, their candidates and supporters, before, during and after elections, the code also became the instrument for the establishment of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) which, without doubt, now plays a significant role as the umbrella body of all registered political parties.
“It is in this context that the Commission has remained committed to encouraging political parties to abide by the tenets of the code of conduct as well as actively support the activities of IPAC towards attaining the ideal electoral environment that is characterised by a general commitment of all stakeholders to the entrenchment of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.”
She asked the political parties to use the umbrella of IPAC to exert peer pressure for the adoption of best practices in key areas, including the promotion of internal democracy, provision of expanded roles for disadvantaged social groups, particularly women, the youth and persons living with disabilities, as well as deliberate commitment by leaders of political parties to the rule of law and strict compliance with the provisions of respective political party constitutions.
The code of conduct sets the parameters for acceptable behaviour for political parties, their candidates and their supporters throughout the electoral cycle.