Nigeria: Electoral Act - Imposing Direct Primaries On Parties Will Lead to Crisis - Saraki

11 October 2021

A former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has appealed to members of the National Assembly who are in the process of reconciling the different versions of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill passed by both chambers to save the country the crisis and trouble that will result from the proposal to make direct primaries compulsory for parties in sourcing candidates for elections.

Daily Trust had reported that there are moves by the leadership of the Senate to force only direct method of conducting primary elections on political parties.

The current system allows political parties to use either direct or indirect method of conducting primary elections.

Saraki, in a statement by his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu Sunday, said the decision to include a provision in the proposed Electoral Act which makes it compulsory for parties to adopt direct primaries would only create a fresh problem while trying to solve another.

He added that many of the political parties lack the necessary infrastructure to successfully conduct direct primaries at all levels while the attempt will lead to hundreds of litigations that may jeopardize the general election.

"I feel compelled to once again appeal to Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives on the proposed Electoral Act because I realise 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 is this 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. 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," he said.

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