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Saraki to n’assembly: Don’t make direct primary poll compulsory for parties

Saraki to n’assembly: Don’t make direct primary poll compulsory for parties
October 11
08:06 2021

Bukola Saraki, former president of the senate, says the national assembly should not make direct primary poll compulsory for political parties in picking their candidates for elections.

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Direct primary is where every member of a party in a ward, LGA or senatorial zone picks a candidate for any position by voting. The indirect mode is when candidates are picked using delegates.

The national assembly is working to harmonise the electoral act amendment bill.

In a statement on Sunday, Saraki said making the direct mode compulsory will only create problems for political parties.

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“The two options on the table are to make direct primaries compulsory for all the parties or to leave it open for parties to decide. We should take the latter option,” he said.

“Let us leave each party to decide how it wants to source its candidates. The experience we have in the past shows that direct primary will lead to a crisis if forced on the parties. We saw how people sent from the national headquarters to conduct primary elections stayed in hotel rooms and conjured up figures which were announced as the result of direct primary elections.

“Even if the big parties have the funds and facilities to organise direct primaries nationwide, how about the smaller parties?

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“Do most of the parties have valid and verified membership registers and other logistics needed for the successful conduct of direct primaries? The direct primaries option will also put pressure on INEC whose officials must monitor all the primaries.

“The direct primaries provision may work for us in the future but not now that we are not prepared for it as the primaries may hold next June. That is just nine months from now.”

The former Kwara governor said there may be many litigations if the national assembly makes the direct primary poll compulsory for political parties.

“From my experience, this issue of direct primaries was raised in the eighth national assembly when we passed the electoral act (amendment bill),” he said.

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“It has always reared its head as a fall-out of the internal dynamics in certain parties where legislators feel they have been short-changed in the congresses where state governors seized the structure because they felt the process was neither transparent nor free and fair.

“In the process that we have now, it is the country that will lose. It is our electoral process that will be undermined.

“My appeal goes to all members of the national assembly. Please, do not let us take a position on critical issues based on partisan and personal consideration.”

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