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Direct primary, an idea whose time has come

The Nigerian political space is daily evolving with new ideas, development and initiative by key players aimed at making things better, yet daily people have reasons to complain about things in the practice of politics in the country that gives them concern.

Why many believe that things will get better with time, it is a surprise that many people who should know how things are done in other climes where things seem to be working are among those who will fight such innovations being introduced in the country, especially when they suspect that such innovation will not benefit them personally on the long run.

One such case is the recent introduction of the direct primary in electing party flag bearers as recently used by the Adams Oshiomhole-led executive committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the governorship primary for the Osun State election.

However, though many people complained about the direct primary, alleging all manner of fraudulent activities in the process, there is no gainsaying that the boldness of the party leadership to introduce direct primary in the selection of party flag bearers is an idea whose time has come and rather than fight it,

all lovers of democracy should join hands in ensuring that it not only works within the APC, but that other political parties including the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), embrace it.

Before talking about the gains that direct primary will bring into the Nigerian political space, it is important to first look at the shortcomings of the indirect primary, otherwise known as the delegate system.

It will not be far-fetched to say that the indirect primary has created a system in the political space where money is the order of the day.

It is a system where people are picked from the ward, local government and states, depending on the position being contested, to go into an agreed place to elect the party flag bearer.

It is common knowledge that people fight to be elected delegates, not necessarily because they love the candidates or the party so much, but because they know the benefits of being delegates and it is also public knowledge that political office seekers have accused either party leadership or other contestants of hijacking delegates and preventing others access to them to campaign.

But in reality, when politicians talk about not having access to delegates, it is actually talking about not having opportunity to buy them over to their side with cash. So, indirect primary has become a case of the highest bidder and the higher the position sought, the higher the benefit that accrues to the delegates.

Indirect primary also encourages the godfather syndrome, where a powerful power broker in the particular party in the area seeks to control political activities in his zone and ensures all political office seekers in his area of influence differ to him and nobody can become anything unless he sanctions it.

The direct primary as practiced in other developed political climes like the United States of America, from where Nigeria borrowed its democratic system, sees to it that every candidate standing election is selected through the direct primary option by voting from state to state, which is why an African/American like Barack Obama and lately a non establishment businessman, without serious political affiliation like Donald Trump could emerge as American Presidents.

Besides reducing the cost of prosecuting an election, which would mean that people with ideas but without deep pocket can successfully stand election, as the chances of buying all voters at the primary is seriously reduced, the direct primary also ensures that members of the party take ownership of it and have a say in who bears the party ticket.

Direct primary will also help to grow the party as more persons who ordinarily will not want to register as party members because they believe they cannot have a say in the system will be more confident to register as members of the party, knowing that they too will participate in electing party flag bearers.

The direct primary option in picking party flag bearers remains one option which will help develop the political space in Nigeria and create room for an all-inclusive system that will on the long run give the people not only a sense of belonging in the party, but a sense of co-owners of the party, knowing that their input counts within the system.

Therefore, the direct primary option in the selection of party flag bearers is an idea whose time has come.

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