The African Democratic Congress (ADC) on Tuesday said that the direct primary clause in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2021 was misnomer and an overshoot by the National Assembly.
Chief Ralphs Nwosu, the National Chairman of ADC made this remark in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, while reacting on the controversy around the bill.
Nwosu said: “Direct primary selection process is good, one may not fault the proponents of such piece of legislation, but it is wrong to legislate how a political party should conduct its candidates’ selection process.
“Parties should be allowed to develop what work best for them. Direct primary might be one of the ways to establish and deepen democratic culture within the party and the wider ecosystem.
“However, it is not for members of other political parties in parliament to decide for the rest of the parties and all political parties how to conduct their internal processes.
“I don’t think the job of creating party characters, identity and models belong to the legislature.
“Parties are different, it is a misnomer for the National Assembly to legislate for parties how to run their own affairs.”
According to him, while some may argue that direct primaries will afford all the members of a political party the chance to participate in the process of selecting their flag-bearers the clause does not allow party uniqueness.
“One party is different from the others. Leaders of parties should design their own unique processes so long as they are in line with the constitution of the land and acceptable to its members.
“The way parties conduct such affairs may be part of their strategies for winning and success.
“So, the national assemble should not straight jacket parties,” he added.
Nwosu said that ADC had a memorandum of understanding with youth and women groups in the selection of its flag-bearers.
The ADC chieftain added: “Legislating on type or nature of primary is the least of our problem as a nation.
“The other features of the proposed amendment like the electronic transmission of result from the polling stations are quality elements that will impact the credibility of our elections.
“Bills aimed at improving transparency and credibility of processes are what our lawmakers and all elected leaders should be interested in improving.”
He said that the legislature should bother themselves with inter-party processes but not intra-party mechanisms.
Nwosu added that the ADC was also mindful of expenses of conducting direct primary election.
Recalls that the bill, transmitted from the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov.19, for assent, exceeded its 30-day window on Sunday for the President to sign or withhold his assent to it.
As stipulated by Nigeria’s constitution, the president has a 30-day period to “signify” his decision on the proposed legislation.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Sunday had however said that Buhari was not legally bound to publicly declare his decision on the Bill sent to him for assent.