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2023: All You Need To Know About Political Parties’ Mode of Primaries

2023: All You Need To Know About Political Parties’ Mode of Primaries

In the newly signed Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 passed by the National Assembly and signed earlier by President Muhammadu Buhari catered for the mode of elections for political parties’ candidates.

The Speaker of the House Of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila had urged lawmakers to make direct primaries mandatory for the selection of election candidates by the parties, as part of the amendment to the Electoral Act.

This, he said, would enrich the country’s democracy by encouraging wider participation of party members in the nomination of candidates for elections, which was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari and resent to the house.

The Clause making the direct primaries the statutory mode to choose party’s candidates was eventually removed.

The newly passed law gave approval that political parties in Nigeria should adopt direct primaries, indirect primaries and consensus method to choose candidates for all elective positions and that they should be monitored by the representative of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party PDP, and ruling All Progressives Congress, APC during their national conventions to elect National Working Committe of the party adopted consensus approach to elect their officials.

Since its foundation about seven years ago, the APC has used both direct and indirect primaries to nominate its candidates, but the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some other opposition political parties nominate their candidates largely through indirect primaries.

In the 2019 general elections, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, went poles apart with the mode of primaries used in the election of their candidates for 2019.

While the ruling APC went for the direct primaries colloquially called Option A4, the PDP fine-tuned the familiar indirect primaries.

Direct Primary Vs Indirect Primary

In direct Primaries, all registered members of the political party choose their party’s candidates while an indirect primary is one whereby party members elect delegates from among themselves who in turn decide the party’s flag-bearers for upcoming elections.

Delegates are a democratically elected group of voters elected at party congresses.

A congress is a formal meeting or convention between members of a political party.

During the congress, registered members of a political party elect these delegates that will represent them at local, state and national congresses.

One of the undersides of Indirect Primaries is that Governors determine delegates and make sure whosoever they want gets the parties’ tickets. This has played out many times across the country. In effect, that is no election. It is an imposition.

But when it is direct primary, the governors cannot be in control of the whole people of the state. It is now left to the parties to make sure that those appearing for election get whatever is given to them.

The provisions of the Electoral Amendment Act Amendment Bill that all political parties must adopt direct method of primary election would have solved the problems of imposition of candidates, vote buying, rigging, manipulation, associated with indirect methods of the delegates system.

With the 2023 election ahead, and parties having to choose their candidates soon, the modes of primary elections have once again become a burning topic. Which suits the polity better, time will tell.

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