The adoption of direct primaries by the Upper chamber of National Assembly in the recently passed Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law for the nomination of candidates by political parties ahead of 2023 general elections, the bill has rattled the governors to the marrow. The governors, who have been the most influential stakeholders in the party politics of all political parties in Nigeria, wield enough financial power to achieve whatever objectives that they desire as it was evident in the just conducted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) convention.
Prior to the PDP convention, the governors on the platform of the party scheme to determine who get what which ultimately came to pass at the convention ground. Also in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the governors through their forum, Progressives Governors Forum, has always been a key factor in the running of the party affairs, they can make or mar ambition of any individuals in the party. This ultimately leaves the legislators at the mercy of their individual state governors.
The legislators in a bid to wrestle control of the party from the governors subtly hide behind the guise of strengthening democratic values, through the introduction of direct primaries to outmanoeuvred the governors,and to curb the excess influence the governors have over them in their reelection bid. Though the idea of direct primaries will really deepen our democracy, but the main intention of the legislators was made open barely 48 hours after the passage of the bill at the tripartite meeting which comprises the executive, legislature and APC excos held at the villa.
At the meeting, the members of the National Assembly maintained that direct primary was the way to go. They argued that it is going to work for the electorate.They further tore the thin veil by giving reason why indirect primaries have not been producing people’s candidates for elections because of interference of the governors through imposition of candidates. Therefore, their main grouse was aptly stated by the Speaker of the house of representatives, who said that only about 20 per cent of lawmakers were return to the National Assembly, which he blamed on extraneous factor. What is the extraneous factor? Your guess is as good as mine- The governors of their state.
The legislators themselves, who are product of imposition by the governors knew how the game was skewed to favour them really want to take such power away from the governors. Through the adoption of direct primaries, they have taken a step to clip the wings of their state governors. It is therefore left to be seen if those legislators can have enough resources to fight on during the primary, if eventually the bill is assented to by Mr President. With direct primaries, can they have the resources to match that of the governors? It is worth waiting to see how far they can go with direct primaries.
The fog of the adoption of direct primaries is going to take a lot of time before it can be clear and may take a longer time to settle.