Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has urged the National Assembly to have a rethink on the contentious direct primaries stipulation in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, warning that the provision may truncate Nigeria’s democratic process if the National Assembly insists on going ahead with it.
Umahi spoke when he received the Registrar of National Examinations Council (NECO), Prof Dantani Wushishi, in Abakaliki, the state capital. There have been arguments for and against direct primaries, with both camps urging President Muhammadu Buhari to accept or reject the provision. While lawmakers are pushing for the direct primaries, governors are opposed to it in what appears to be a monumental power play.
There are growing fears the President may refuse assent to the Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly on November 9, 2021. Among the key provisions of the amended law are the electronic transmission of results and the adoption of the direct primary by all political parties.
Umahi, the Southeast Governors Forum Chairman who decamped from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), believes the President has refused to assent because of the direct primaries provision. He said the number of litigations that would arise from direct primaries would be so much that it would make the electoral process too costly and too cumbersome to prosecute.
“Let me congratulate Mr. President for refusing to sign that electoral amendment bill. You see, when we are making laws we have to look at all the factors. This is a country that when you are defeated in any primary, you refuse to accept defeat. Now, imagine the number of our local governments, 774.
“Imagine the number of wards, you now go to conduct primaries in all these wards for the President and after that the Senate and the rest of the positions. Even if you are doing all of them in one day, expect petitions by the number of political parties times the number of wards. So it will just truncate our democracy, there is no doubt about that. Nobody has considered the amount of confusion that will arise out of that because everybody that contests election will like to go to court,” Umahi said.