Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has noted that while most Nigerians are concerned about having the electronic transmission of results into the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act, another potential problem that may clog our electoral process has been included in the Electoral Act.
While identifying this problem in the proposed law as the provision which makes direct primaries compulsory for parties, he urged members of the National Assembly to save the country from the trouble that will be caused by the proposal to make direct primaries compulsory.
Naija News reports that Saraki, who stated this in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, observed that many of the political parties lack the necessary infrastructure to successfully conduct direct primaries at all levels, while the attempt would lead to litigations that might jeopardize the general election.
The former Senate President, who urged federal lawmakers not to create a new problem in a bid to solve another, said the direct primaries option will also put pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), whose officials must monitor all the primary elections.
“I feel compelled to, once again, appeal to senators and members of the House of Representatives on the proposed Electoral Act because I realized that while the focus of the general public has been on how to get the electronic transmission of results into the proposed law, another potential problem that may clog our electoral process is included in the Electoral Act – provision on direct primaries.
“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. Let us leave each party to decide how it wants to source its candidates. Past experience 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.
“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 time for adequate and necessary preparations towards direct primaries is even not there. There will be so many litigations arising from the process. Do we have the time to hold crisis-free primaries and not create booby-traps for the general elections?
“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. Let us put Nigeria first and act in the best interest of our country. During our time in the National Assembly, whenever we were confronted with issues like this, we just appealed and prevailed on members to put the nation first before any other consideration. I believe the same appeal should go to the present federal lawmakers,” the statement read.