GOVERNORS of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have begun lobbying President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the new bill calling for direct primaries as a means of selecting party candidates unto law.
Recently, the National Assembly passed a bill into law, compelling all political parties to hold direct primaries as a means of selecting their candidates for election. Before the bill can become law, however, President Buhari has to sign it but fearful of the way it will reduce their influence, APC governors have begun lobbying against the new law.
These governors under the umbrella group the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), held a meeting earlier this week where they vehemently rejected the model of the party primary. Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, the PGF chairman, said the National Assembly’s decision was nothing but a usurpation of the duties of the political parties in the determination of their flag bearers.
According to Governor Bagudu, the forum resolved that the mode of the emergence of party candidates should be the prerogative of the political parties and not an issue in the Electoral Act. He also added that the resolution was against the spirit of executive order signed by President Buhari, which frowns at large gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, the chairman further argued that in the face of present economic realities, the direct primary would be too cumbersome and unwieldy. He stressed that it would overstretch the limited resources of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec), which is mandated to oversee primaries conducted by political parties.
Governor Bagudu said: “There have been concerns that political parties are voluntary organisations and our concern is that once you limit the abilities of parties to choose options that they so desire, that may even be arguably undemocratic because noting stops one party from adopting one or the other. Direct primary involves of necessity, supervisory role by Inec, at multiple levels, at multiple points, so you can imagine that if political parties are doing their primary, by direct primary, Inec resources will be overstretched.”
He hinted of plans by the forum to meet with the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly to impress it on them to review the resolution ahead of the presentation of the Electoral Act 2010 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021 to President Buhari for presidential assent. It is believed that the governors have already begun lobbying the attorney-general of the federation Abubakar Malami to push their case.