Direct Primaries: Group cautions President Buhari against hurriedly assenting to electoral act amendment bill

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, attributed growing social unrest to inequalities and unfair policies that exclude the majority from opportunities for participation, calling on world leaders and global investors to prioritise inclusive and humane policies.

A civil society organisation, under the auspices of Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against appending his signature to the Electoral Amendment Bill before him, as some of the amendments may have an adverse effect on the electoral processes.

The group, under Comrade Igbini Odafe Emmanuel as National President, on Friday, wrote an open letter to the President, in which it picked out some loopholes in the Bill, especially as it relates to Direct Primaries.

His reactions came following a letter written by the President to INEC seeking further advice, especially on direct primaries and electronic transmission of results.

Comrade Odafe said having carefully and dispassionately followed and analyzed the arguments and controversies that have been trailing the proposed Amendments to the Electoral Act to impose Direct Primaries on all Political Parties as the only method for choosing Candidates for Elections, we unequivocally reject such move and strongly advise you (President) to withhold Assent to same.

According to Odafe, the imposition of Direct Primaries or any form of primaries on any or all political parties will violate section 223 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended.

He also warned that it will make a mockery of democracy as was the sad case of the two major political parties imposed on Nigerians during the regime of former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida.

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He said, “We wish to state clearly that by virtue of section 223 of the Nigerian Constitution, as amended, the methods for choosing candidates for elections by political parties are strictly the Internal Affairs of each political party as aptly provided in each Constitution of the various political parties.

“We are aware that copies of Constitutions of all political parties are registered in INEC as required of the parties by the provision of section 222(c) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, being the precondition for registration of political parties with INEC.

“Furthermore, section 222 (d) of the Nigerian Constitution makes it the exclusive preserve of only eligible members of each political party to alter any section of their Constitution and to register such alterations in INEC only for record and compliance. Nothing more!

“There is nowhere in the Nigerian Constitution that direct primaries or any other specific method of choosing candidates for elections by political parties are provided.

“It is the Law that an express mention of somethings excludes all others not mentioned. In this instant case, there is no express mention of direct primaries in the Nigerian Constitution to warrant the exclusion of indirect primaries or other methods desirable by the majority of members of each political party.

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“It is therefore constitutionally incorrect for the members of the National Assembly particularly those of APC who are now at war with their Governors over who picks and imposes candidates for elections, to attempt to impose direct primaries on APC, PDP, PRP and all other registered political parties.

“It is imperative for us to remind you and Nigerians that this is sadly how for sixteen years that PDP ruled Nigeria, it used its majority members in National Assembly to frequently amend the electoral Act just to resolve undemocratic behaviours of some of its leaders and or its internal crises which have nothing to do with the peace and harmony prevailing in other political parties.

“Regrettably, this is exactly what some leaders and members of APC in the National Assembly are trying to replicate now that APC is the ruling party and has the majority of members in the National Assembly. This is an abuse of privilege that should and must be stopped by Democracy-loving Nigerians”.

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