THE RELEVANCE OF THE AMENDED CLAUSE 87 OF THE ELECTORAL ACT AND THE RE-ENGINEERING OF THE POLITICAL SPACE, A MILEAGE OF OUR DEMOCRACY

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This statement has become necessary to address the attacks against the leadership
and members of the House of Representatives (House) regarding the intervention of
the Rt. Hon. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila during the consideration of Clause 87 of the
Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill which has now been adopted by the Senate.

Nigeria’s nascent democracy has matured in these 22 years of Nigeria’s fourth
republic. Without a doubt, the people are wiser, more informed, more engaged and
yearn for a new political order that empowers them to reject unpopular or
incompetent political aspirants. A popular yearning of Nigerians in the electoral
reform process was the call to discard the delegate-based primary election method in
favour of direct primaries. Following extensive stakeholder consultations and
engagements on electoral reforms, it is clear to the leadership of the House that the
delegate-based primary election method is not only unpopular, but is inefficient in
producing credible candidates.

Indirect primaries have enabled godfatherism and the corruption attendant to this
twisted form of aristocratic democracy. They have created a system where unpopular
political candidates rely on buying delegates to vote them or their cronies at party
primaries. This is antithetical to the aim of a diligent primary election which is to
choose credible candidates that would most likely be acceptable to the electorates.

Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila’s contribution to the amendment of Clause 87 of the Electoral
Act is reflective of the agitations of the people. The House wishes to remind all
political players that direct primaries is in the best interest of our democratic
advancement as a nation.

The conduct of party elections by direct primary remains
the most transparent mode of nominating a candidate in any election. It marks a true
return of power to the people. It is more participatory, creating a level playing ground
for all aspirants and allowing the emergence of popular candidates. Direct primaries
will increase the participation of women and youth in the political process. It will help
check god-fatherism, enhance intra-party democracy and reduce the
commercialization of elections in Nigeria.

The House is pleased that the Senate has agreed with its position on direct primaries
as well as the electronic transmission of election results. The harmonization of both
chambers of the National Assembly on these issues is a clear indication of the
maturing of our democracy.

The House remains committed to the improvement of our electoral process and
expresses confidence that Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill will be expeditiously
assented upon transmission to the President.
Signed,
Rep. Benjamin Okezie Kalu