Posted by News Express | 23 May 2022 | 286 times
In strict compliance with the guidelines and timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2023 general election, political parties in the country must have commenced the process for the nomination of their candidates for various offices. These public offices include national and state assemblies, governorship, and the presidency. The outcome of these primaries, especially in the leading political parties, will offer Nigerians glimpses of what to expect at the election proper and the kind of leaders to emerge.
However, for the first time under the current dispensation, only elected delegates from each of the 774 local governments are legally allowed to vote in the primaries of the various political parties, by virtue of the current enabling law. This development arose principally because we have a self-serving political elite. While the lawmakers were obsessed with inserting the contentious Section 84 (12) in the process of amending the electoral act, just to whittle the powers of governors in the nomination process, they inadvertently removed themselves and other elected public officials (at all levels) from the list of ‘statutory delegates’. There was no indication as at last night that President Muhammadu Buhari would sign the hasty amendment to the amended electoral act 2022. The implication is that all elected officials (including national assembly members) have been excluded from voting in the nomination process of the political parties for the 2023 general election.
Even without that self-sabotage by the federal lawmakers, the challenge at hand is no less daunting. Unlike the fringe parties that often announce names of candidates against different offices after some hollow rituals, the big parties cannot afford such luxury without consequences at the polls. In the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), primaries to elect candidates for the state house of assembly were expected to hold yesterday while that for the House of Representatives should hold today, 22 May. Senatorial primaries should hold tomorrow, 23 May while the special convention where delegates from across the country will elect the presidential standard bearer is scheduled for Saturday, 28 May. As for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), primaries for the house of representatives and governorship candidates are slated for Thursday 26 May with primaries for candidates into the senate and states houses of assembly scheduled for the next day, 28 May. The party’s presidential primaries should hold next Sunday, 29 May. Given the tight schedule by INEC, the parties have little rooms to maneuver, even though both the APC and PDP appear to be desperate.
Meanwhile, to the extent that credible election is a basic requirement of democratic governance and an antidote to civil disorder, it is important that the nomination of candidates by all the parties be transparent and based on popular participation in which aspirants and their members are availed a level-playing field. We also hope that there will be no interference or imposition of candidates in the name of ‘consensus’, especially for critical executive positions. At a period the nation needs innovative leaders at all levels of government, the process through which the candidates emerge is critical and should not be compromised by unwholesome practices. As we have highlighted on several occasions, if intra-party primaries are flawed, as they have been over the years, it is a given that the outcomes of such exercise cannot deliver on good governance. That is also clear from the state of the country today.
Ordinarily, the essence of the primaries is to give party members the opportunity to help the democratic process by nominating for election people with character and competence. But in the past, party primaries were marred by widespread fraud, monetisation and lack of respect for democratic norms and competition. With the process usually hijacked by sundry godfathers and overbearing public officials, democratic choice has most often been subverted. It is therefore paramount that party leaders ensure that the rules and regulations governing the primaries are binding on every participant and that they play fair. That will create confidence in the system and save the country from the apparent storm ahead.
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