Governors lobby senators, Reps over direct primaries


It was learnt yesterday that governors are mounting pressure on senators and House of Representatives members to revisit their stance on direct primary mode of picking candidates by political parties.

The governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) believe that the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act on shadow poll is directed against them, according to the source.

Both chambers of the National Assembly are rounding off legislative work on the amendments to the Electoral Act.

It was learnt that the governors prefer the delegate system, which allows the participation of statutory delegates and elected delegates to elect candidates.

While the House of Representatives adopted direct primary, the Senate, which initially okayed a choice between direct and indirect primaries, later adopted direct primary approach.

Although the Conference Committee of the National Assembly has harmonised the positions of the two chambers-Senate and House of Representatives, the task is inconclusive until the Conference Report is adopted.

The source said: “The governors see this as a window of opportunity to mount last minute pressure on the National Assembly to reconsider its position on this aspect of the Electoral Act.”

While the constitutions of various political parties spell out the modes of selection of candidates for elections, they will be inferior to the Electoral Act if there is conflict.

The constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emphasises the indirect system while the constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has provisions for consensus, direct primary and indirect primary.

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The consensus option implies an internal agreement by the party to adopt or queue behind a candidate collectively adopted.

The indirect primary implies the choice of a flag bearer by delegates who were elected at ward, local government and state levels.

Under the direct primary mode, all party members are eligible to vote in the primary.

Senate Spokesman Senator Ajibola Basiru recently shed light on the provisions on direct primaries, stressing that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) now has a more vigorous duty to monitor the primaries.

He said political parties are now mandated by the law to furnish the aspirants and the electoral commission with the guidelines and the party membership register.

The spokesman said the issue of armophorous membership will become a thing of the past.

He said: “Accreditation will be based on party register. Any aggrieved person can go to the Federal High Court to challenge any aspect.”

Yesterday, Basiru said he was not aware of any pressure on the National Assembly from any quarter.

He said the parliament had gone far with the amendment, following the submission of the report of the Conference Committee.

Basiru added: “I am a member of the Conference Committee, which did the harmonisation. We need to just adopt the Conference Report before the final bill is passed to the president for assent.”

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