A former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has appealed to the members of the National Assembly to save the country from the problems that will result from the proposal included in the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill to make direct primaries compulsory for parties.
Saraki in a statement on Sunday, by the head of his Media Office, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said direct primaries should be left open for parties to decide.
He said, “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.”
Saraki 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 might jeopardise the general election.
“Even if the big parties have the funds and facilities to organise direct primaries nationwide, how about the smaller parties? Can the big parties also provide the facilities and election officials that will be present in all the polling units in the country, either simultaneously or in staggered primaries? Do most of the parties have valid and verified membership registers and other logistics needed for the successful conduct of direct primaries?
The direct primaries option will also put pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission whose officials must monitor all the primaries.
The direct primaries provision may work for us in the future, but not now that we are not prepared for it as the primaries may hold next June. That is just nine months from now. The time for adequate and necessary preparations towards direct primaries is even not there,” he said.