Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom yesterday said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would adopt consensus option for the emergence of its presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to return the amended Electoral Act sent to him for assent to the National Assembly, saying the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not have the capacity to monitor direct primary elections among 18 political parties.
Addressing a media briefing in Abuja, Ortom said the PDP would adopt consensus option at all levels, including the presidential candidate in choosing its standard-bearers for the 2023 general elections.
The Benue State governor also alleged that so far, over 1700 citizens and 100 security officials had been killed in the security crisis involving the herdsmen and farmers in the state
He said: “In 2023, we are going to adopt a consensus option in the nomination of all candidates and where we cannot reach a consensus as we did in the election of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) and where we cannot reach a consensus, we will have elections”
On the proposed direct primary election for political parties, the Benue State governor called on President Buhari to return the amended Electoral Bill to the National Assembly, insisting that INEC does not have the capacity to monitor direct primary elections in 18 political parties.”
He said the electoral college system or indirect primaries remained the best for the nomination of candidates
According to Ortom, “the best option is indirect primaries, political parties ought to be allowed to evolve a system and processes that would help them grow and develop internal democracy within them.
“The direct primary system is more expensive, discourages internal democracy,” he said, explaining that the governors and party members were taken aback about the proposed legislation.
He urged President Buhari to make haste to return the bill to the National Assembly for necessary amendments
According to Ortom, the indirect primary was more democratic, fair and transparent and ensures equity.
He disagreed with the insinuation that the governors use the indirect primary elections to their advantage and manipulate the nomination processes.
He explained further, “As a governor, it is easier to manipulate the direct primary than the indirect primary. In an indirect primary, the delegates can easily revolt or protest, when the processes are tampered with or manipulated
“How can INEC conduct a direct primary in Benue State where there 276 wards alone, let alone the remaining 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The direct primary will give the governors more powers. If any governor wants to manipulate the processes, it is easier for manipulation. Above all, INEC doesn’t have the capacity. It will be too much load on INEC.”
Ortom said that if the amended electoral laws was returned to the National Assembly it could still be amended and assented into law before the lawmakers proceed on the yuletide break, saying, “nothing is impossible when there is the political will.”