By Ehiremen Inegbenoise
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to sign into law, the Electoral Amendment Bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly, in the interest of Nigerians and the country.
The call made by the Center for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), is coming as the deadline for the President to sign the bill into law or risk an override by the National Assembly expires this week.
Representative of the CSLS and expert in Electoral Law and Justice, Dr. Akin Oluwadayisi, who made the position of the center public, said Buhari signing the bill into law, would not only make history but would have succeeded in enthroning himself as the “father of true internal democracy”.
The center’s position was contained in a press statement dated December 12, 2021, and made available to journalists.
“The current Electoral Amendment Bill before the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for assent demands immediate and urgent assent in the interest of the electorates and entrenchment of parties’ internal democracy.
“In the first place, Section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) declares that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government itself derives all its powers and authority. And it is through the direct participation in political parties’ primaries that the participation by the people in their governments shall be ensured.
“Indirect primaries deny them this right of grassroots participation”, the statement read in part.
The law expert who remarked that political parties over the years have failed to allow direct election of delegates when primaries are conducted, argued that if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is given the powers to supervise the process, it will not only ensure credibility but also build the confidence of the people in the future general elections that will be conducted.
“Mr. President’s will also be breaking the jinx governorship godfatherism and perhaps, father true internal democracy from political party level if he assents to the Bill.
“The Governors of states in Nigeria have been tested with the required true democratic involvement of local governments but failed through selfish interest, dominating control and financial manipulation of the local government authority”, he said.
According to him, allowing indirect primaries into the legislative bodies is to further empower the governors to play the role of gods in determining the future of Nigeria’s democracy, good governance, and sacrifice direct participation of the electorates’ desires.
Oluwadayisi stressed that the bill will benefit the political parties, especially the ruling party more in that when the party members are given the freedom to choose active and responsive legislators, their performances and delivery will go a long way to promote the party’s image and collective interest of the people who have chosen them.
He noted further that major countries of the world including the United States where Nigeria borrowed the presidential system of government no longer practice an indirect form of primaries for the selection of candidates as voters can directly vote and determine the top candidates who will advance to the general election.
“The presidential assent to the bill is the adoption of the ideal form of democratic practice now being practice by developed nations of the world that the nation emulates”, he added.