EDITORIAL:   With Parties’ Primaries Ahead…

EDITORIAL:   With Parties’ Primaries Ahead…

Against the backdrop that political party primary elections are a crucial point in a country’s democratic circle, not a few Nigerians are determined to see the leadership gap which has been noted by most analysts as the bane of underdevelopment in Nigeria, be corrected in the forthcoming round of general elections in 2023.

Many are of the view that the new Electoral Act 2022 would go a long way in ensuring the country’s elections are more credible and transparent, as well as inspire voters’ confidence which has dwindled over the years due to a series of malpractices characterising past elections.

The electronic transmission of election results has been hailed as the most significant gain in the new electoral act, adding that it will greatly reduce the incidences of electoral malpractice.

The increasing decline in voters’ participation in the preceding elections is because voters believe that votes do not count and the choices on the ballot even at the point of the parties’ platform bearers, do not inspire general confidence as very often, the winners of primary elections are foisted on the parties by their leaders.

With clauses that the INEC would now have access to money for the preparation of elections early, to early commencement of primary elections by political parties and the electronic transmission of results, there is an assurance that we are a step towards achieving more credible elections in the country.

We enjoin political parties to ensure they conduct credible primary elections in choosing quality and popular candidates for the upcoming polls as history of such processes is replete with allegations of turning it into a bazaar of sort, where money-bags often hijack the process by monetising it through bribing delegates with humongous sums of dollars, thereby rendering the primaries ineffective and incredible in selecting the most popular aspirants who may not be so financially endowed.

Previously, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had noted that political party primaries in the country would continue to lack credibility due to the absence of a reliable membership register.

Lamenting the acrimony that has trailed the various party primaries ahead of the then 2019 general elections and how the commission is bogged down by hundreds of court cases in which it is joined as a defendant, a senior director in the commission said without a credible membership register, the parties cannot have internal democracy.

“The question to ask is do you have a register of members? Can we single out people and ask them for their membership registration? If you do not have a register, you cannot have internal democracy but we can help them to provide a simple platform to register members.

“This is the first major thing they should do and after that, they can use technology to campaign. From the last general elections in 2019, the problems are already out and I do believe that for 2023, INEC and parties have to work together to eliminate these challenges”, he said.

The Commission had disclosed how it was joined in 396 pending actions in various courts across the country arising from the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties.

Similarly, it had received 302 requests for Certified True Copies, CTC, of documents, “mainly our monitoring reports of party primaries and copies of personal particulars of candidates. These requests are obviously a prelude to more court actions. In addition, we have also received 52 petitions and protests from aggrieved party aspirants”, INEC stated.

The above stated challenges arising from faulty primaries could be avoided if the various parties stuck to the rules guiding the internal processes of conducting primaries in their parties.

The onus of choosing a credible, acceptable and accessible candidate becomes very critical, as any mistake in this regard is capable of making the parties produce the wrong candidate.

If a free and fair primary election is held and an acceptable candidate emerges, pre and post-election litigations will not Arise.

We plead with the delegates to see this task of electing the flag-bearers for their parties as a responsibility that must be carried out satisfactorily without bias. They should ultimately vote according to their conscience.

Politicians must put behind selfish and parochial interest in the public good.

President Mohammadu Buhari has reiterated his resolve to deliver credible elections, as the father of the country and leader of the ruling party he is expected to walk the talk by ensuring that the credibility of the election begins from the point of choosing his party’s candidate, so as to set a standard for other parties to emulate.

AljazirahNigeria welcomes a unified attitude from all parties and stakeholders to ensure a smooth process leading to the general election come 2023 especially as they may wish to exploit the provision for consensus candidacy.

Most importantly, national interest must supersede parochial and partisan concerns while the INEC ensures strict compliance with the extant regulations guiding the processes.

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