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Direct Primary: “Don’t Encourage Third Term Agenda Ploy By Politicians” – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has warned against a repeat of the third term agenda following the controversy being generated by the provision for direct primaries in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

 

The commission also expressed fear that any alteration to the law might affect the 2023 general elections.

 

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, said these on Sunday in an interview with journalists.

 

When asked to comment on the position of INEC on direct and indirect primaries by political parties, he said, “The position of INEC as the impartial umpire is the position of the directives of the extant legal framework. As managers of the electoral process, the commission has institutional memories and knowledge of the advantages and pitfalls of the different methods of conducting parties’ primaries. But as Alexander Pope said, for forms, modes or methods, it’s scarcely necessary to contend, because what is best administered is best.

 

“In other words, there’s nothing inherently so good or bad about indirect or direct primary to warrant the ongoing acrimony that may affect other profound provisions of the current bill given that this issue of direct primary is just one item in the bill.

 

“We must avoid a repeat of the third term situation whereby just one obnoxious item in a single bill truncated the entire bill. We must bear in mind that one common formula for success in any approach chosen depends on the sincerity of those who lead and manage these parties as well as those who participate in those primaries conducted by political parties.”

 

According to him, unless members of political parties from the top to bottom sincerely submit themselves to the due process they subscribe to, any hope for the success of whatever method they subscribe to will be a futile hope.

 

Igini said, “From our political experience in this country, one of the biggest political challenges has been the inability of political parties to organise primaries without squabbles. Whenever they manage to do so, it has always been seen as a remarkable achievement, whereas it should be something of a routine.

 

“Looking beyond the problems to the solution, our take is that whatever mode that we subscribe to, political parties should do the following: a mandatory submission within a reasonable time before any primary election of certified true copies of verifiable party register of members of each ward or delegates’ list for the election; and certified true copies of party guidelines for the same election submitted to INEC and published on the party’s website, as well as two newspapers displayed in all LGA offices of the party within the constituency of the election.”

 

He also dismissed insinuations that INEC would incur much cost because of direct primaries.

 

“Look, no mode of primary is cost-free. The commission had always spent money to mobilise staff members, who are deployed to monitor either direct or indirect primaries in the past. There is absolutely nothing new about this issue of financial burden argument,” Igini stated.

 

On if the Electoral Act (as amended) would in any way affect the effectiveness of INEC as Nigeria prepares for another election year in 2023, he said, “While the constitution provides a broad general framework on matters of elections, particularly concerning tenure and time frame within which election should be conducted, qualifications, and other matters, the Electoral Act is the principal legal framework for organising, conducting, and supervising elections in addition to the commission’s guidelines and manuals made under the powers donated exclusively to the commission by the constitution.

 

“Therefore, changes and proposals in the new Act will affect the conduct of elections marginally or profoundly, depending on the significance. We hope that this bill comes out as we enjoin all stakeholders to make it happen for the improvement of our electoral process and the sustenance of our democracy.”

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