Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman has insisted that lawmakers of the governing All Progressive Congress APC in the national assembly are to blame over the questionable clause regarding direct primary in the electoral act amendment Bill.
Lukman revealed the current content was never in the original bill.
The PGF DG who stated this in a statement issued in Abuja and titled, ‘Internal Party Democracy and Politics of Candidates’ Nomination’, described the insertion of the clause as an afterthought.
He expressed worry that the current situation was more for personal aspirations by some members of the party rather than addressing the crisis being faced in the APC
According to him, “it is worrisome that APC members in the National Assembly are the ones pushing for this amendment.
“Rather than leaders of the party negotiating among themselves on what needs to be done to produce internal agreement to resolve all challenges facing the party, increasingly, structures of the party are being abandoned and other structures outside the statutory organs of the party are being used to attempt to address perceived problems”, Lukman added.
He said; “The whole insertion of the provisions requiring political parties to adopt the direct method in the Electoral Act would appear to be an afterthought.
” This is because, the original bill, which was subjected to joint public hearing by both the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at the National Assembly complex in Abuja didn’t contain the insertion of Section 87 Sub Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. There was only the insertion of Section 87(1 and 2), which provides that:
“Sub Section 1: It seeks to enact a new section 87 on the nomination of candidates by parties for elections by prescribing maximum fees payable by aspirants and restricting nomination criteria strictly to relevant provision.
” Specifically, the bill states that total fees imposed by a political party shall not exceed N1million on a House of Representatives aspirant; N2 million on a senatorial aspirant; N5 million on a governorship aspirant and N10million on a presidential aspirant.
“Sub Section 2: ‘compels a political party not to impose nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, measures or conditions on any aspirant or candidate for any election, except as prescribed under sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 187 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).’
“It was during the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill after the public hearing in July 2021 that the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila moved motion for the amendment to allow direct primaries to be part of the amendment.
“In the case of Senate, after passing an amendment bill, which did not include the requirement to compel parties to adopt direct method for election of candidates, following a ‘motion for Re- Committal of some Clauses of the Electoral Act No.6 2010 (Repeal and Re- enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) to the Committee of the Whole as sponsored by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, All Progress Congress, APC, Kebbi North’ on October 12, 2021, Sections 87 (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) were inserted and passed.
“It will be important therefore to appeal to both the Senate President, HE Ahmed Lawal and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and all the leaders of the National to provide the needed leadership for the country to have the right legal framework, which can guarantee the administration of direct primary by political parties in the country as a means of entrenching internal democracy during the process of nominating party candidates for elections.
“The proposal passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly on November 9, 2021 is highly inadequate and leaves more room for manipulation, which may produce more disaster for the country beyond what the nation is going through under the indirect method”.
Lukman said while the expanded APC Tripartite Consultative Committee meeting of November 9 would have been expected to influence the final amendment to guide the work of the conference committee of the national assembly, the lawmakers decided to ambush the tripartite committee.
“Notice for the meeting was issued by the party, dated 4th November 2021, signed by the CECPC Secretary, Sen. Akpanuduedehe. Certainly, all members of the APC Tripartite Consultative Committee, including the APC leadership in the National Assembly should have been aware of such expectation.
“Interestingly, before the meeting, which was scheduled to hold, 5pm Tuesday, November 9, on that very day, the plenaries of both the Senate and the House of Representatives considered the report of the conference committee on the Electoral Act amendment and adopted the report and passed the new Electoral Act amendment bill. With such development, the expanded Tripartite Consultative Committee was confronted with a fait accompli”.
He said given that the whole controversy about the proposed Electoral Act amendment is limited to the new insertions in Section 87, the National Assembly should consider reworking issues under Section 87 to make it unambiguous.
“The reworked new provisions should go through all the legislative processes including public hearing to enable Nigerians also contribute to making the law.
“This is a very sensitive issue, which no Standing Order of the National Assembly should be used to block the democratic rights of Nigerians in contributing to the law.
“While the reworked Section 87 is being processed as recommended, the National Assembly may wish to adopt all the other amendments and transmit them to the President for assent.
“Unless leaders of the National Assembly are interested in blocking the possibility of amending the Electoral Act and want to shift the blame on President Buhari, it would be very inappropriate politically to expect the President to assent to the Electoral Act amendment with the provisions in Section 87 and all its ambiguities.
“The leadership of the National Assembly should take responsibility and not pass the buck”, Lukman added.
He said the whole debate about adopting direct method as part of the Electoral Act is mainly an APC agenda, but that there may be a calculated attempt by a section of APC leadership whose interest is to hoodwink APC members and Nigerians with the direct primary dummy.
Noting that the direct method of selecting candidates within the APC began to be corrupted under the dissolved National Working Committee led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Lukman said “it is quite suspect that isolated aggressive campaign to include the issue of compelling parties to adopt direct primary to nominate candidates for election is being promoted by respected APC leaders without corresponding commitment to ensuring that the process of producing a verifiable membership register for the APC is finalized”.
Lukman said the vulnerability of direct primary to manipulative intrigues of political leaders was further confirmed in the just concluded Anambra Governorship election where the APC candidate in the election, Sen. Andy Ubah, during the APC primary election was said to have emerged with 230,201 votes but only got 43,285 votes during the election.