Dr. Abubakar Bukola, a former President of the Senate, has made a passionate appeal for members of the National Assembly to reconcile the various versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill Bill. This is to save the country from the chaos and trouble caused by the proposal to make parties’ direct primaries mandatory for sourcing candidates for election.
Saraki, in a statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu, the head of his Media Office, stated that adding a clause to the proposed Electoral Act, which would make it mandatory for parties to adopt primaries, will only cause a new problem and not solve an existing one.
He said that many political parties lack the infrastructure necessary to conduct successful primaries at all levels. This will result in hundreds of lawsuits that could jeopardize general elections.
” I feel compelled once again to appeal to Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members of Congress on the proposed Electoral Act. While the public’s attention has been on getting the electronic transmission of results into this law, the provision on direct primaries is another problem that could clog up our electoral process.
” There are two options: make direct primaries mandatory for all parties or allow parties to decide. The latter option should be chosen. Let each party decide how they want to source their candidates. We know from past experience that direct primary can lead to crisis if it is forced upon the parties. We witnessed how national headquarters personnel were sent to primary elections and stayed in hotels while conjuring up figures that were then announced as direct primary elections.
” Even if big parties have the resources and facilities to organize direct primaries across the country, what about smaller parties? Are the big parties able to provide facilities and election officials for all polling units across the country? Are most parties able to provide the necessary logistics and valid membership records for successful conduct of direct primaries? Direct primaries will also place pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission, whose officials must monitor all primaries.
” The direct primaries provision might work for us in future, but not now because we aren’t ready for it. This is only nine months away. There is not enough time to make the necessary preparations for direct primaries. The process will lead to many lawsuits. Are we able to hold primaries that are free from crisis and avoid creating booby traps for the general election?
” This issue of direct primaries was brought up in the Eighth National Assembly during the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. This issue has been a result of internal dynamics within certain parties. Legislators feel that they were not treated fairly in congresses in which state governors took control of the structure. They felt it was not transparent or fair. Legislators may see the process of passing Electoral Act as a way to settle their differences. The country will lose in the current process. Our electoral process will be hampered.
” My appeal goes out to all members the National Assembly. Please don’t allow us to take positions on critical issues that are based on personal and partisan considerations. Let’s put Nigeria first, and work in the country’s best interests. When faced with such issues during our time at the National Assembly, we appealed to members and won. The same appeal should be made to federal legislators.
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“At this point, we also call on the leadership of the various parties to intervene and call all their stakeholders together to address the issues. The APC, which is the ruling party, has the majority of the responsibility for making the legislators do the right things. It is able to pass any bill that the National Assembly leadership wants. Saraki stated that the party should convince its members to not include provisions in the proposed Electoral Act, which could later be a major clog for the smooth conduct and credibility of our elections.”
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