Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), an umbrella body of registered political parties, on Monday said Nigeria was not ready for the adoption of direct primaries.
Although there have been controversies surrounding the insertion of the direct primaries clause into the Electoral Act Amendment, IPAC admitted that there were benefits attached to its adoption.
“We are of the view that, much as we may cherish its perceived benefits, the country at this stage of its democracy, does not appear to be sufficiently ripe and prepared for the direct primary election model in the selection of political party flag bearers,” IPAC chairman Yabagi Sani said during a press conference.
“Many have canvassed the view that no amount of money should be considered too high in the efforts to sanitise the nation’s electoral process and that the legislature should, therefore, invoke its veto powers to overrule the president.
“To us in IPAC, such an action may be tantamount to a wholesale wrecking of the boat.
“Also, against the backdrop of the president’s decisive aversion to this particular provision of the electoral bill, the use of veto by the legislature may merely result in a fruitless exercise if at the end of the day, its implementation is not supported by the required funding by the executive,” Mr Sani said.
He said that IPAC was inclined to the opinion that regard the National Assembly’s position on indirect primaries as amounting to an attempt to usurp the constitutional rights of parties as to the method of choice of party flag bearers.
According to him, the lawmakers might have acted as interlopers by trying to run political parties from the hallowed chambers.
He said that objectively in the context of international practices, primaries elections could not be legislated upon, but best left to the discretion of the political parties.
Mr Sani admonished the National Assembly and the executive arm to be rather concerned about ensuring the integrity of the electoral process and how to make Nigerian democracy more resilient.
“The way out of the logjam, in our view in the IPAC, is for the shifting of grounds by the legislature and the executive arms of government for a compromise and amicable resolution resulting in a win-win scenario.
He advised the National Assembly to expunge the clauses regarding direct primary election in the bill, for it to be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The IPAC is accordingly, recommending that the Legislature should accede to the expunging of the clauses regarding direct primary election thereby saving the other equally important provisions among which, is the one on the mandatory electronic transmission of election results by INEC.
“By that, we believe that President Buhari should have no further reason to withhold his assent,” he said.
“To avoid further pitfalls in the remodeling and implementation of this law, we suggest that the legislature and the executive should consider carrying IPAC along.
“This is in view of the fact that the Bill directly affects our members, the political parties, who will implement the law when eventually enacted. He who wears the shoes knows where it pinches,” Mr Sani added.