Party Primaries: Pretenders, Double Dealers As Democrats

Party Primaries: Pretenders, Double Dealers As Democrats

Nigeria’s contemporary democratic practice has been laced with Janus-faced tendencies. The situation is duplicitous where politicians engage in a do or die strategy to secure nominations at all cost for different elective positions and where they hit a brick wall on one strand, they resort to deft measures to remain relevant within the political space. In circumstances where they are denied by virtue of their losing at the primaries in their slot of choice, they revert to the trenches to arm twist or brow-beat individuals who have already filled in positions they had ignored for a ‘higher’ slot.

These scenarios were evident across the major political parties where some incumbent governors and senators went for ‘loftier’ offices at the first line of their party primaries, only to revert to retake or secure nominations to positions they currently occupy, from which they had aimed at a higher one. Meanwhile, other party faithful who had gone through a rigorous process, would have comfortably won nominations to those positions.

In Bauchi State for instance, it was a battle royale between Governor Bala Mohammed and a few others who had thought they were already positioned to take over from him come 2023, having gone to Abuja to seek nomination for a presidential ticket under the banner of his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.  He failed in that bid only to return to the state level to cause chaos in the state hierarchy of the party by trying to wrest the governorship slot from the winner. The dust from the ensuing crisis is still haunting the party as the winner of the slot has continued to feel short-changed releasing the slot to his principal who we learnt participated in another supervised Guber primary where he emerged victorious.

In Yobe State, it is an epic battle in which the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan who lost in his presidential ‘nomination’ bid returned to the trenches to capture the senatorial slot in his All Progressives Congress, APC, party. The winner who was said to be obdurate and unwilling to relinquish his nomination termed it a ‘Broad Day Robbery’ for the party’s top hierarchy to try to sneak into the process in which he had not participated abinitio. Some stakeholders in some instances have called for the voiding of the earlier primary which produced someone else in order to accommodate other interests who had lost out at other levels.

In Akwa Ibom State also, an APC chieftain former Minister of Niger Delta and presidential aspirant, Senator Godswill Akpabio who also had a two-term stint as governor of the state,one –term senate seat, tried the presidential pie only to withdrew in curious circumstance when he announced he had stepped down for the eventual winner of the party’s presidential primary, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. Akpabio with a few other contestants had given up their deposits to allow for their supporters to queue behind Tinubu.

Other politicians who were caught in this untoward practice in the political process include, Sen. Rochas Okorocha who is representing Imo West district, Sen. Bukola Saraki among others.

It is ordinarily not a democratic anomaly should aspirants concede their rights of contest to another especially where it is based on negotiation and persuasion but it is absurd to monetise a process which should be free of any pecuniary superiority.

We are averse to the monetary exchanges as alleged by some stakeholders that the large army of aspirants who obtained expensive forms to contest the primaries were at the behest of particular contestants who actually gave monies for the process so as to step down at the dying minute in order to amass votes for their sponsor which naturally would have come for them if they were actually in the race. It only points to the fact that in some of the contests money played a pivotal role and not conviction.

It further demonstrated that many politicians are only interested in being politically relevant at all cost, even when the odds are glaringly against them. We call on stakeholders who fail to secure their intended nominations not to emasculate other interests because of their overriding clout. We must give budding politicians a chance to thrive.  

As much as it is clear that the recently signed Electoral Act 2022 has no provision stopping an aspirant from obtaining two or more nomination forms for various offices in the same party, AljazirahNigeria urges that the Electoral Act should be further amended to accommodate a provision which would streamline the system into allowing only one nomination for each aspirant in and out of the person’s party.   

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