A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Moh Lukman, has said the National Assembly leaders and its members are as guilty as governors in the ongoing debate to either adopt direct or indirect primaries for selection of candidates by the political parties.
Lukman also revealed that the insertion of the provisions requiring political parties to adopt the direct method in the passed Electoral Act would appear to be an afterthought.
In a statement released to newsmen Friday in Abuja, titled: ‘Internal Party Democracy and Politics of Candidates’ Nomination’ the APC chieftain appealed to all APC leaders to understand and appreciate that the challenges facing both the party and the nation require strong unity, especially among leaders.
Lukman said: “The issue of using the indirect method as a means of imposing candidates through corrupt practices, almost all elected representatives in the National Assembly are as guilty as Governors. From the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives to all the APC and House Representatives members, they must have all paid for every vote they got during internal party primary leading to their election. At that time, they must have been very good loyal partners of Governors.
“By the way, there are at least twelve former Governors currently serving as APC Senators. While negotiating to emerge as Senators, they must have also been working to ensure the emergence of their preferred choices who are currently serving as Governors through the dreaded indirect method.
“Could these former Governors who are currently serving as Senators claim to be innocent of all the undemocratic practices associated with the indirect method? Could the current serving Governors be the only promoters of the bad undemocratic practices of imposition, vote buying, etc. through the indirect method?”
According to Lukman, part of the underlying problems of Nigerian democracy is the problem of poor relation between members of executive and legislative branches.
“There is always a constant fight between Governors and members of the National Assembly of almost all states. Poor relationship between Governors and members of the National Assembly from states is partly responsible for high turnover rates of elected Senators and House of Representatives members.
“The turnover rate is estimated to be as high as 80%. Other factors that must be responsible for the high turnover rates would also include personal lifestyles of many elected representatives, which alienate them from their constituents. The relationship between most elected representatives and their constituents is largely transactional, which produce envy and, in many respects, undermined their electoral viability.
“On both the two issues of poor relationship between Governors and elected representatives, on the one hand, and relationship with constituents, how can the adoption of direct primary address the problem of high turnover rates?
Lukman said the issue of compelling parties to use direct method for internal party elections as part of the Electoral Act is also popular perhaps because increasingly many political party members and leaders have lost confidence that parties can on their own adopt internal rules that can truly allow for direct primary.
“Otherwise, ordinarily the choice of direct primary should be decided internally within parties. To a large extent, it is also a matter that should define the ideological orientation of parties.”
The APC chieftain revealed that 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).”
While calling for caution, the statement warned that “No leader should have the illusion that old methods of imposition of candidates by any means – direct or indirect – can guarantee electoral victory.
“As much as APC members and Nigerians want the internal process of nominating candidates for elections to be broadened to engender wider participation of party members, no political leader should attempt to introduce loose arrangements so that figures can be produced in the name of results for party primary. APC has worked hard in 2015 and 2019 to earn the confidence of Nigerians. No APC leader should take that for granted.”