Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), has said that the amendment of the country’s Electoral Act mandating political parties to adopt the direct form of primaries in selecting candidates for elections, has ambiguities that must be made clear.
He said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, noting that the amended Electoral Act does not address some vague sections.
The amendments to the country’s Electoral Act had gone through public hearing and was finally passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, and was currently awaiting assent by the president.
The bill, when signed into law, is expected to address issues of corruption involved in the indirect primary method of selecting party candidates for elective offices.
Section 87(1) of the proposed amendment bill provides that ‘A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by INEC.
Lukman, however, pointed out some flaws in the amended Bill, saying it does not address political parties’ management of their membership register which was essential for a credible direct primary to be conducted.
He noted if the objective of mandating political parties to adopt the direct method was to ensure the credible process of nominating party candidates among other things, the admissibility of members of a political party during direct elections should be well outlined.
He noted that the amendment being proposed took many issues for granted.
“For instance, the only thing that exists as means of identification of party members is an ordinary piece of paper and records of members exist only in hard copies available perhaps to only Ward officials and National Secretariat of the party. It leaves much room for manipulation and extraneous practices.
“Beyond the sentiments in favour of direct primary, therefore, there is the need to properly outline a clear administrative framework under the law.
‘This will guide the process and guarantee that all the bad practices associated with the indirect method of electing party candidates are eliminated,” he said.
Lukman, while alleging that the campaign for the direct primary was an agenda of the All Progressives Congress (APC), added that it could be an attempt by some party members to achieve personal goals.
The PGF DG further added that it could also be because Nigerians and party members have lost faith in their parties.
“In several respects, the issue of compelling parties to use the direct method for internal party elections as part of the Electoral Act is also popular perhaps because increasingly many political party members and leaders have lost confidence that parties can on their own adopt internal rules that can truly allow for direct primary.
“Otherwise, ordinarily the choice of the direct primary should be decided internally within parties. To a large extent, it is also a matter that should define the ideological orientation of parties,” he said.
Lukman appealed to the National Assembly to rework Section 87 of the Bill on direct primary and take it through all the legislative processes, including a public hearing, to enable Nigerians to contribute to making the law before presenting it to the President.