‘I Am Not Opposed To Direct Primary, But…’ – PGF DG

…Urges NASS to rework Electoral Act Amendment Bill and send back to Buhari  

…Asks CECPC to urgently release date for National Convention

Godwin Amunde

Director-General, Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) – the umbrella body of Nigerian governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) – Salihu Lukman said he is not opposed to direct primary, but there are some conditions which must be met for direct primary to be able to provide the democratic platform that will confirm the voice of individual members of the party.

He stated this against the backdrop of the debate surrounding the rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, saying the imposition of direct primary on political parties among other recommendations would not augur well for the polity.

He urged the National Assembly to rework the grey areas of the bill and forward same to the President for his assent.

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President Buhari

The PGF DG stated this Wednesday in Abuja at the unveiling of his new book, ‘APC and Campaign for New Nigeria,’ saying the message in the book is basically an appeal to APC leaders to prioritize internal negotiations.

“I am not opposed to direct primary, but there are some conditions which must be met for direct primary to be able to provide the democratic platform that will confirm the voice of individual members of the party.

“Some of those conditions include the fact that the membership of the political party must be very clear; it should not be in dispute. In APC, we are very clear in terms of ensuring that we prioritize the question of developing the membership database of our party. That was why we went through the process of membership registration and revalidation.

“The next stage will be the question of internet provision within the party to ensure that every member of the party is aware of the records of members without any dispute.

“The whole debate about direct or indirect primary is basically an APC issue. To that extent, my position is to appeal to the leadership of the National Assembly to provide the necessary leadership so that we don’t muddle up issues.

“My argument is that the original bill which went for public hearing did not include all those provisions. It was out of the momentary anger I think, against governors following the management of the Congresses that led to the situation whereby National Assembly NASS members felt compelled to amend the law and include direct primaries.

“The issues that are necessary in the Electoral Act which are not contentious are issues of electronic transmission of results and all the other issues.

“I think they should work it and submit it to Mr. President for assent. The other issues of direct primaries should go through the normal legislative process and if it is passed, so be it, so that we don’t throw the baby away with the bath water,” he said.

“Democracy is about negotiations. Our leaders have demonstrated very good capacity to make sacrifices and that is how the party even came about.

“I think at this point, it is important that our leaders embrace negotiations. It is just about ensuring that meetings take place and decisions taken are respected. It is the capacity of organs of the party to meet that provides a platform for negotiations.

“Another point which is there in the book is an appeal to party leaders again to prioritize the issue of relationship because the major challenge of politics in this country today is poor management of relationship among party leaders.

“This is creating a lot of internal crisis and I believe that as we move towards the convention, we should resume meetings of statutory organs of the party because that will help a number of issues whether it is that of congresses or any other disagreement. One meeting can settle everything.

“Our leaders should be able to convene a meeting, possibly, a meeting of National Caucus or National Executive Committee NEC before the convention, on the basis of which we can begin to resume the process of reorganizing ourselves and facing the challenge of providing leadership to this country as we move to 2023,” he added

The APC Chieftain also urged the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary/Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to urgently fix the specific date for the party’s national convention, tentatively slated for February, 2022.

2023: APC governors reject direct primary option - Tribune Online
Mai Mala Buni

He said fixing the date would help, by not allowing certain issues to go into speculation as information about the date could enable party members to know exactly when the convention is going to hold and prepare for it.

His words: “Our leaders should be able to convene a meeting, possibly, a meeting of National Caucus or National Executive Committee (NEC), before the convention, on the basis of which we can begin to resume the process of reorganising ourselves and facing the challenge of providing leadership to this country as we move to 2023.

“I have the belief that we will continue to advocate for a situation where our politics in the party is issue-based because Nigeria is too passionate about personalities. The commitment of party leaders to issues is what is more paramount.”

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