…As APC Reps cry of marginalisation
The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to investigate violations of the Electoral Act by political parties during the conduct of party primaries to choose candidates for the 2019 general election.
This resolution is coming on the heels of public outcry and controversies that have trailed the conduct of party primaries throughout the country, especially allegations of imposition, substitution, extortion, lack of transparency and other malpractices that occurred during the conduct of the primaries.
Accordingly, the House decided that it would set up an ad hoc committee to determine whether the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) colluded with the parties to flout the Electoral Act in the conduct of their primaries.
The probe, the House stated, would enable the National Assembly correct any defects in the Act and strengthen the extant law, including the constitution in order to improve the nation’s electoral process and deepen democracy.
Also, the ad hoc committee is further expected to ascertain the income and expenses of the major parties in the last four years in line with Section 226 of the constitution.
The committee has four weeks to conclude its assignment and report its findings to the House for further legislative action.
These resolutions by the House were sequel to the adoption of the motion sponsored by Rep. Abubakar Chika Adamu (APC/Niger) on the lack of internal democracy in the conduct of party primaries ahead of the general election.
In his lead debate, Rep. Adamu lambasted the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for what he termed as the lack of internal democracy in the conduct of the just concluded party primaries.
Rep. Adamu expressed worry about the level of widespread irregularities that attended the various party primaries even though the primaries were monitored and supervised by the INEC.
He accused the parties of failing to adhere to the provisions of their constitutions and the Electoral Act with regard to the conduct of primaries, asserting that “some parties brazenly refused to hold primaries in contravention of Section 87 (10) of the Electoral Act which makes it mandatory for parties to hold primaries, thereby leading to crisis in some state chapters of political parties.
“Governors in many states interfered with the elections by either imposing their preferred stooges as candidates on the parties and ensured that some aspirants were denied the right to participate or were short-changed in the elections after paying huge amounts to obtain nomination forms”.
The House member averred that if legislative measures aren’t adopted to address this trend, “the National Assembly, may in the nearest future be the assemblage of governors’ stooges to the detriment of our democracy and the interest of the electorates”.
He decried the act of selling nomination forms to aspirants at exorbitant rates even when party leaders had predetermined the winners of primaries, an act he described as unjust and can be equated as corruption.
Moreover, Rep. Adamu said that some parties sold forms at exorbitant rates and didn’t explain or justify their expenses, adding that in some cases “even where clear winners emerged in the primaries, the results were altered and other persons declared winners, thereby short-changing the electorate and violating Section 87 (3&4) of the Electoral Act.
“The crisis in the parties has generated many litigations which may spill over into the tenure of the next governments as some of them may not be terminated before the end of the tenure of this government, and in some cases, there were violent attacks, including burning of properties, maiming and killing of people,” he stated.
Supporting the motion Rep. Adekunle Akinlade (Ogun/APC), who contested and lost the governorship ticket of the party, said that the party short-changed so many of its members during the conduct of the primaries.
He stated that he clearly won the Ogun State APC governorship primary, but that the APC party leadership in the state decided to share the position to other contenders for the ticket.
Also Rep. Muhammad Soba (Kaduna/APC) said that he felt short-changed during the party primary, just as he complained that the nomination forms were too exorbitant.
Another APC House member, Rep. Mojeed Alabi (Osun/APC) stated that the the conduct of the party primary was faulty and added that political parties by their formation and orientation are oligarchic in nature.
Rep. Nnenna Ukeje (Abia/PDP), Rep. Sergius Ogun (Edo/PDP) and some other lawmakers expressed their displeasure with the conduct of primaries by parties and commended their colleague from Niger State for speaking out against the travesty that occurred during the primaries.
When Speaker Yakubu Dogara called for a voice vote on the motion, it was unanimously adopted.
Thereafter, the speaker constituted the ad hoc committee with Rep. Edward Pwajork (Plateau/APC) as chairman. Other members are Rep.Olayounu Tope (Kwara/APC) and Rep. Baballe Bashir (Kano/APC).