Electoral Act: Saraki Appeals to NASS Members on Direct Primaries -GCFRNG
Former Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has sent a passionate appeal to the members of the National Assembly who are in the process of reconciling the different versions of the Electoral Law Bill (amendment) passed by both houses to save to the country of crisis and problems. that will result from the proposal to make direct primaries mandatory for parties when looking for candidates for elections.
Saraki, in a statement signed on his behalf by Yusuph Olaniyonu, head of his Media Office, noted that the decision to include a provision in the proposed Election Law that forces parties to adopt direct primaries will only create a new problem in trying to solve another.
He added that many of the political parties lack the necessary infrastructure to successfully conduct direct primaries at all levels, while the attempt will lead to hundreds of litigation that can jeopardize the general election.
“I feel compelled to appeal once again to Distinguished Senators and Honorable Members of the House of Representatives on the proposed Electoral Law because I realize that while the general public has focused on how to achieve the electronic transmission of results in In the proposed law, another potential problem that can obstruct our electoral process is included in the Electoral Law is this provision on direct primaries.
“The two options on the table are to make direct primaries mandatory for all parties or to leave it open for parties to decide. We should take the last option. Let each party decide how it wants to get its candidates. The experience we have in the past shows that direct primaries will lead to a crisis if they are imposed on the parties. We saw how people sent from the national headquarters to hold primaries were staying in hotel rooms, and we conjured up numbers that were announced as a result of direct primaries.
“Even if the big parties have the funds and the facilities to organize direct primaries across the country, what about the smaller parties? Can the large parties also provide the facilities and electoral officials who will be present at all polling stations in the country, either simultaneously or in staggered primaries? Do most parties have valid and verified membership records and other logistics necessary to successfully conduct direct primaries? The option of direct primaries will also put pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) whose officials must monitor all primaries.
“The direct primary arrangement may work for us in the future, but not now that we are not ready for it, as the primaries may take place next June. That is only nine months from now. The time has not even come to make the necessary and proper preparations for the direct primaries. There will be so many litigation arising from the process. Do we have time to hold primaries without crisis and not create traps for the general elections?
“From my experience, this issue of direct primaries was raised in the Eighth National Assembly when we approved the Draft Law (amendment) of the Electoral Law. It has always raised its head as a sequel to the internal dynamics in certain parties where legislators feel they have been defrauded in congresses where state governors took over the structure because they felt that the process was not transparent, free and fair. Legislators can now view the Electoral Law approval process as a means to settle scores. However, in the process we have now, it is the country that will lose. It is our electoral process that will be undermined.
“My appeal goes to all the members of the National Assembly. Please do not allow us to position ourselves on critical issues based on partisan and personal considerations. Let us put Nigeria first and act in the best interest of our country. During our time in the National Assembly, whenever we were faced with issues like this, we simply appealed and convinced members to put the nation first before any other consideration. I think the same appeal should go to current federal legislators.
“At this point, we also call on the leadership of the various parties to step in and bring all their stakeholders together to address the issues. Most of the responsibility for getting legislators to do the right thing rests with the ruling party, the APC. You have the numbers to pass any bill you want leadership in the National Assembly. The party must ensure that its members avoid including provisions in the Electoral Law project that could later become a major obstacle to the proper conduct of our elections and the credibility of the electoral process, ”said Saraki.