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Controversy over mode of primaries may truncate electoral bill, INEC warns

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
06 December 2021   |   3:40 am
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said controversy being generated over direct or indirect primaries may truncate the Electoral Amendment Bill, which is awaiting presidential assent.

INEC booth

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said controversy being generated over direct or indirect primaries may truncate the Electoral Amendment Bill, which is awaiting presidential assent.

Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, who stated this in an interview, yesterday, observed that any alteration on the bill could affect the 2023 general elections. 

He said: “The position of INEC, as the impartial umpire, is the position of the directives of the extant legal framework. As managers of the electoral process, the commission has institutional memories and knowledge of the advantages and pitfalls of the different methods of conducting party primaries. But as Alexander Pope said, ‘For forms, mode or methods, it’s scarcely necessary to contend because what is best administered is best’.

“In other words, there’s nothing inherently so good or bad about indirect or direct primary to warrant the ongoing acrimony that may affect other profound provisions of the current bill, given that this issue of direct primary is just one item in the bill.”

He explained further: “We must avoid a repeat of the ‘third term’ situation whereby just one obnoxious item in a single bill truncated the entire bill. We must bear in mind that one common formula for success in any approach chosen depends on the sincerity of those who lead and manage these parties as well as those who participate in those primaries conducted by political parties.”

The REC maintained that unless political party members sincerely submit themselves to the due process they subscribe to, any hope for the success of whatever method they subscribe to would be futile.

Igini said: “From our political experience in this country, one of the biggest challenges has been the inability of political parties to organise primaries without squabbles. Whenever they manage to do so, it has always been seen as a remarkable achievement, whereas it should be something of a routine.”

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