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The House of Representatives has resolved that political parties in Nigeria should be restricted to direct primary to field candidates for election into elective public offices.
Indirect primary allows members of a party to elect delegates, who are usually leaders and members of the executives at the ward, local government area and state levels, to, in turn, elect the party’s candidate(s) at a congress or convention.
However, registered members are allowed to directly vote for their preferred aspirant to become the candidate of the party under direct primary.
The APC is known for using indirect mode for its primary polls — the development will force other parties to adopt the indirect mode if the law sails through.
During the consideration of the report by the House Committee on Electoral Matters on the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill between July 15 and 16, 2021, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, called for the removal of the option to go for either secret or open ballot.
Gbajabiamila said, “I will seek an amendment to Section 87. Section 87 provides for either indirect or direct primary. In the true ethos of democracy, I would like to amend Section 87 to delete indirect (primary) and make direct primary mandatory.”
Seconding the motion, the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, declared his support for the proposal.
The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill at the Committee of the Whole, put the prayer to a voice vote and the amendment was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.
Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 reads, “(1) A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.
“(2) The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political party for the various elective positions shall be by direct or indirect primaries.
“(3) A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party.”
Subsection 4 also lists procedures to follow when adopting indirect primary.
The House, however, voted against a proposal seeking to restrict the Independent National Electoral Commission to open ballots.
Gbajabiamila called for an amendment to Clause 52(1) as recommended by the committee, which read, “Voting at an election under this bill shall be by open secret ballot.”
Gbajabiamila had referred to the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election when Option 4 was adopted and the late Chief Moshood Abiola was the acclaimed winner of the poll.
The amendment was unanimously rejected, however.