Understanding Direct Primary, why is Buhari not signing the bill

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The Senate and House of Representatives has unanimously approved Direct Primary Elections for all political Parties for the emergence of their respective candidates for the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

The Bill was then sent to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, but Mr. President declined assent and kept it in view. Why?

Get to understand what is Direct Primary first, then 9News Nigeria will inform you comprehensively on what is holding the signing of the Bill into law.

What to Know about that Direct Primary:

  1. EVERY REGISTERED PARTY MEMBER CAN PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIMARIES (ELECTION/SELECTION OF PARTY CANDIDATES).
  2. IT IS CARRIED OUT AT (POLITICAL) WARD LEVEL; ALL WARDS OF THE STATE.
  3. THE WARD CHAIRMEN AND SECRETARIES WILL BE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CONDUCTING THE PRIMARIES.
  4. THE ELECTORAL ACT STIPULATES THAT RESULTS SHALL BE TRANSMITTED ELECTRONICALLY.
  5. DELEGATES AND SPECIAL DELEGATES ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVELY CANCELLED.
  6. POLITICAL PARTIES SHALL APPOINT RETURNING OFFICERS RESPONSIBLE FOR FINAL COLLATION OF RESULTS.
  7. INEC SHALL BE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUPERVISION OF THE CONDUCT OF THE PRIMARIES AT ALL LEVELS.
    HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIMARIES;
  8. IDENTIFY YOUR POLITICAL UNIT/WARD;
  9. IDENTIFY THE WARD CHAIRMAN OF YOUR POLITICAL PARTY IN YOUR LGA;
  10. APPROACH YOUR WARD PARTY CHAIRMAN TO REGISTER YOU AS A PARTY MEMBER;
    (REMEMBER THAT IT IS YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REGISTER WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY OF YOUR CHOICE; NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO DENY YOU REGISTRATION WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY; AND IF YOU ARE DENIED, YOU CAN DUTIFULLY REGISTER YOUR COMPLAINT WITH A COURT OF LAW; THIS WILL SERVE AS A BASIS FOR LITIGATION IN AN ELECTION TRIBUNAL.
  11. ONCE REGISTERED, YOU ARE GOING TO BE ISSUED WITH A MEMBERSHIP CARD OR IDENTIFICATION (ALL POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE MEMBERS IDENTIFICATION)
  12. THE MEMBERSHIP CARD OR IDENTIFICATION MUST HAVE THE SIGNATURE(S) OF THE FOLLOWING:
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i) National Chairman

ii) National Secretary

iii) National Organizing Secretary

iv) Ward Chairman

v) Ward Secretary

  1. TRACK AND KNOW THE PARTY PRIMARIES SCHEDULE, WHICH WILL BE RELEASED BY INEC AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME, AND PRESENT YOUR CARD FOR ACCREDITATION AND SUBSEQUENT PARTICIPATION ON THE DAY.
  2. JOIN AND VOTE THE CANDIDATE OF YOUR CHOICE, AND WAIT (IF YOU DESIRE) FOR THE COUNTING, E-TRANSMISSION, AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE RESULTS AFTER ELECTION.

The Above amendment has however not been signed into law yet by the President but this is just to help us understand what and how the Direct Primaries would evolve if it finally becomes law.

WHY MR. PRESIDENT DECLINED ASSENT TO THE BILL

President Muhammadu Buhari may not sign the document as an ‘Act of Parliament’ to anchor future elections due to huge logistics cost that goes along side with the usage of the new Electoral Act.

It was gathered that the President has communicated his decision to relevant sources after due consultations with the Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC and the Attorney General of the Federation – AGF, Abubakar Malami.

As it goes, the National assembly will be faced with options of correcting and accommodating the President’s concerns by reworking the document for his assent or overriding his veto by summoning a joint session of the Assembly to revalidate its own document against President Buhari’s wish.

But would the National Assembly veto the bill?

The new Electoral Act, it was learned, would demand a disbursement of about N500 billion Naira after signing it into to law to finance its usage for the 2023 forthcoming general elections.

Beside the huge financial cost that goes along side with the new Electoral Act, some Governors from the All Progressives Congress (APC) are obviously opposed to the recommended Direct Primary election as a prerequisite for nominating candidates for elective positions at all levels. They argued that Direct Primaries would further divide the ruling party and could come at huge costs running into hundreds of billions of naira.

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The Governors, who met the President in a closed-door session, argued that they were also speaking the minds of their counterparts in the People’s Democratic Party – PDP.

Although Nigerians want a new electoral law, there are indications that politicians within the APC and the PDP have convergent opinions on why the President should not sign the Bill without expunging some provisions, especially the compulsory Direct Primary election within the internal democratic processes of political parties.

PDP governors had also threatened to go to court should the Political Party be forced to take the path of Direct Primary without any other option.

This means that the Bill would need to be re-worked by the National Assembly and the compulsory Direct Primary provision be expunged before the President would sign it into law.

This will be the second time President Buhari will be withholding assent to this crucial document in his two-term rule.

The first was in the life of the 8th National Assembly, shortly before the conduct of the 2019 general elections in which the President recorded a legally and keenly contested victory.

His reason for declining assent at the time was that electronic voting (also allowed in the new document), a major component of the proposed ‘law,’ was open to manipulation and could hamper the conduct of a credible election as the country’s democratic system was ill-prepared for it.

This time around, the President has been under pressure to sign a new electoral law passed by the 9th National Assembly after the lawmakers were pressured to reconsider the document and factor in some, if not all, of President Buhari’s concerns.

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Although Nigerians and Civil Society Organisations have been mounting pressure on the Executive Arm of Government to sign the new Electoral Act, the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami and other functionaries of government have already advised the President enough and
Buhari has taken decision not to sign the amended Electoral Act into law until certain clauses are removed from it.

The decision of Mr. to abstain from signing the amended Electoral Act is premised on the fact that APC Governors while meeting with President Buhari have pointed to him that beside the huge financial cost that has to be in place already to let the Bill run, they also informed Mr. President that all major political parties, especially the PDP, are averse to his signing of the Bill.

President decision to decline assent to the bill is also anchored on the Independent Electoral Commission – INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu advice to the President which he said compelling all political parties to conduct Direct Primaries would cost the Federal Government more than N480 billion.

INEC had quietly told the President that toeing the path of Direct Primaries for the two major political parties (APC and PDP) alone would amount to holding two national elections in Nigeria with the attendants costs for logistics, security and provision for infrastructure, especially as the electoral umpire would have to be present and supervise to ratify all processes.

President Buhari then referred the matter to AGF Abubakar Malami who, after legal consultations, returned with a confirmation that he might not have to sign the Electoral Act in its current state.

About Samuel Abasiekong 738 Articles
Samuel Abasiekong, Senior Journalist, Newspaper Publisher, Author of many literature text books, French-English, English-French languages Translator and Interpreter, Multi-sectoral Counsellor & Consultant, National Convener of National Public Interest Group - NPIG, Secretary Uyo Division of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, News Editor & Reporter @ 9News Nigeria www.9newsng.com www.facebook.com/9NewsNG

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