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Electoral Bill: INEC Endorse Direct Primaries, Writes President Buhari

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has yesterday transmitted a letter to president Buhari on its opinion endorsing the direct primaries as contained in the new electoral bill in the waiting but advises the president to consult with other political actors and security agencies before taking the decision. The National Assembly had on 19th November transmitted an electoral bill to President Buhari for his assent who is by law have 30 days to make up his mind on either to endorse the bill or decline, the bill which repels the Electoral Act 2010 as amended proposed for a direct primary the only means for political parties as a way of selecting their candidate for election and also make it a law the electronic means of transmitting the result.

Accordingly, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Gambari had on 29th November written INEC seeking for its opinion on or before 3rd December to inform the president on what is good for the country being the electoral umpire.

The proposed law has split the All progressive Congress (APC) especially the clause that proposes the direct primaries as a means for nominating candidates as the Majority of APC lawmakers and the Tinibu camp opted for direct primaries while the governors are against it which they consider will make them irrelevant in their various states.

Contained in the 2010 Electoral Act as amended, the direct primaries system, the delegates and the consensus are all allowed in the process of candidate selection.

However, the INEC through its letter to the presidency on 3rd December opined that the new proposed bill would strengthen the political process and lay a strong foundation for generations to come.

Among other opinions of INEC is “provisions on early submission of candidates for election, electronic transmission of results and the power of the Commission to review declarations made under duress or are inconsistent with the law will contribute immensely to better management of elections, increased public confidence in the electoral process and overall democratic consolidation in our country.”

However, the letter was signed by the INEC boss, prof. Mahmud Yakubu suggested to the presidency to make a wider consultation especially the clause that contains direct primaries since it appeared to be the most point the governors are kicking against.

The INEC said being a multi-stakeholder activity, INEC alone cannot singlehandedly determine the direction without consulting the political parties who are responsible for conducting the process and the security agencies who are responsible for securing the process.

Accordingly, the failure of the electoral empire to make an outright position shows the sensitivity of the matter especially as it affects the interest of the opposing camps as it may determine their chances of clinging to the 2023 tickets.

According to one of the TINIBU supporters who opted for anonymity said, “Not many politicians can come out to openly mobilise against Asiwaju, even if they covertly don’t like him. But in a delegate system, they can go against him; at least, that is a secret system.”

On the other hand, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through its spokesperson, Kola Ologbodiyan, insisted that President Buhari should assent to the bill.

He said, “The bill contains other germane issues and we cannot allow the APC to foil the process because we want to battle against the direct primaries provision,”

Ologbodiyan added, “The party may challenge the direct primaries later, no party should foist a system on others. But sign the bill first.” Though he revealed the president did not consult his party for its opinion.

Apart from INEC, it was also learned that the president sought the views of the offices of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Vice-President.

Although one of the Buhari kitchen cabinet members who did not want to speak officially disclosed that “What I can tell you in strictest confidence is that Presidency is clearly dissatisfied with the seeming isolation of the people and party members from the party selection process as it is,” the official said. “And the President is determined to correct this as a legacy.” 

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