Direct primary: APC tripartite committee faults NASS over passage of electoral bill

0

…Wants Buhari to withhold presidential assent

…APC cannot impose its processes on PDP — Kola Ologbondiyan

By Uthman Salami

The Tripartite Committe constituted  by President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve all areas of differences within the positions of the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over direct primary election has hit a brickwall.

This disagreement came over the use of direct primaries by parties to select the candidates of their choice.

Earlier, the Senate had passed the harmonized version of the Electoral Act at the resumption of plenary by members of the National Assembly following a 3-week recess and the harmonization of the bill by both the Red and Green Chambers

Presenting the harmonised version of the bill, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi said once the bill was assented  by the President, it would regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory Elections.

According to him, “It is imperative to point out that with the successful harmonization of this bill, a process that started from the 7th Assembly through to the 8th National Assembly has now been completed by the 9th National Assembly.”

He stressed that, “The bill is now ready for passage and Presidential assent.”

While explaining his delight over the passage of the bill, he said, “I am happy to state that most of what we call ‘citizens top priorities’ on the Electoral Act Amendment, including the use of technology have been addressed by the Electoral Bill, 2021.”

Meanwhile, before the  bill gets the nod by the two Chambers, the senate had set-up a 7-man conference committee to meet with members of the House of Representatives Conference Committee to harmonise the differences in the Senate and House versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The need for constituting the conference committee by two chambers of the national assembly became necessary after there were expressions of dissensions and grey areas in the passage of the bill

The major area of disagreement was in respect to the mode of operation of electronic transmission of election results and the powers of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).

This led to the constitution of an enlarged meeting by the President, Muhammadu Buhari and Chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo which was held at the State Houss.

The committee consists of the Executive, Legislature and the APC, clearly failed to convince members of the National Assembly on the need to provide an alternative for the direct primary option.

The members of the Committe met at the meeting just few hours after the passage of the electoral bill by the National Assembly, which had okayed direct primaries as the only constitutional mode of primaries that all the registered political parties in the country could employ in deciding on the choice of candidates for the elections.

Buhari may withhold assent

Meanwhile, indications have emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari may reject the bill for not providing alternatives for party members to pick those to represent in all General Elections.

While speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello said that the governors do not have a problem with the provision but argued that it leaves the party with no alternative.

During the discourse, members of the National Assembly at the meeting insisted that direct primary remained the way to go because it has been working for the electorate.

The Kogi State Gov  suggested a likely option of returning the bill, saying that the final decision on the matter rests with President who is expected to give assent to the electoral bill. Shortly after the Senate passed the bill, the house of representatives approved the conference committee report on the electoral act amendment bill.

Now that both chambers of the national assembly have approved the report, a copy will be produced by the clerk of the national assembly and sent to the president for assent.

“It is imperative to point out that with the successful harmonization of this bill, a process that started from the 7th Assembly through to the 8th National Assembly has now been completed by the 9th National Assembly.

“The bill is now ready for passage and Presidential assent.

“I am happy to state that most of what we call ‘citizens top priorities’ on the Electoral Act Amendment, including the use of technology have been addressed by the Electoral Bill, 2021.”

No Party has right to Impose its processes on another — Kola Ologbondiyan

In a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said no party should impose its processes on another

The party said, “PDP has received the news of the passage of the harmonized electoral act amendment bill, which among other things, provided for direct primaries for nomination of candidates for elections by political parties.

“Our party holds that it is the inalienable right of each political party, within the context of our constitutional democracy, to decide its form of internal democratic practices including the processes of nominating its candidates for elections at any level.

“The PDP also believes that no political party should force its own processes on any other political party as the direct primaries amendment, a practice of the All Progressives Congress (APC), sought to achieve.

“Having stated this, the PDP shall, within the next 48 hours, make its final decision in respect of this amendment known.”

On his part, a Chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Comrade Ogbu Onwe, said the “Constitutional provisions will override that direct primary inclusion. It is outrightly overbearing. it is like  another man ordering his fellow on how to make love to the wife even when he did not solicit for his input.”

The Former Chairman of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA),  Chief Peter Ezeanni said “The Senate passage of the electronic transmission of votes in the amended electoral act is Commendable and in good spirit but the amendment for ‘direct primaries’ as the only means for conduct of primaries is ill motivated. I don’t buy into that.”