Tom Okpe, Abuja
Chief Osita Okechukwu, Director General, Voice of Nigeria, (VON) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electronic Transmission item in the Bill, so as not to throw away the Bimodal Voters’ Accreditation System, (BIVAS) in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2021 and Direct Primary hyperbole.
Speaking on the raging controversy over Direct Primary mode of electing party candidates inserted into the yet to be endorsed Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Mr Osita Okechukwu, foundation member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), appealed to President Buhari not to throwaway the baby and the bathe water.
In a statement in Abuja on Sunday, the VON DG said it is my candid appeal that; “Mr President should endorse the Electronic Transmission, contained therein; which is the mother of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BIVAS).”
Okechukwu re-echoed that BIVAS is the Vaccine to Vote Rigging saying; “the most patriotic item in the Bill, an offspring of electronic transmission which ultimately fulfills the legacy pledge of Mr President to bequeath credible, free and fair elections to Nigerians.
“Am sincerely afraid that the controversy, hyperbole and cacophony of voices over direct primary may wittingly or unwittingly scuttle the entire Electoral Bill, thus; throwaway the baby – BIVAS and the bathe water, Direct Primary.
Mr President, please avoid this booby trap against electronic transmission.” Okechukwu submitted.
He further stressed that the eloquent canvas of both sides of the gladiators divide, starting from the National Assembly, the Honourable Speaker, Rt.Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, quoting:
“If I know that my return will depend on few men, I may not care about you. But if I know that my return will depend on my accountability and representation to the people, I will do the right thing.
That’s why I said in different fora that I’m for direct primary. We have to do this for the sake of the institution.”
Quoting another Senator, he said; Okechukwu said: “This amendment, if signed by the President will also stop the governors from removing federal lawmakers at will. They (governors) just sit in their offices and decide who will return and who will not return. They have been doing this for 20 years.”
He said on the other side of the gladiators divide and to his understanding that they all mean well is the chairman of Progressives Governors Forum, (PGF) Abubakar Atiku Bagudu who stated; “We discussed the pros and cons, there has been concern that political parties are voluntary organisations.
“We expressed concern that political parties be allowed to choose from the options that they so desire. Direct primary involves supervisory role of Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) so, if multiple political parties are doing their primaries, INEC resources will be overstretched.”
On the same lane the second dominant political party in Nigeria’s multiparty democracy, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said, “our party holds that it’s the inalienable rights of each political party, within the contest of our constitutional democracy to decide its form of internal democratic practices including the processes of nominating its candidates for elections at any level. The PDP also believes that no political party should force its own processes on any other political party.”
In the same context Comrade Salihu Lukman, although, Director General PGF, but a one man riot intellectual squad added, “The vulnerability of direct primary to manipulative intrigues of political leaders was further confirmed in the just concluded Anambra Governorship election.
“The APC candidate in the election, Senator Andy Ubah, during the APC primary election was said to have emerged with 230,201 votes. But he only got 43,285 votes during the election.
“Some measure of honesty is required from all leaders to address problems of internal democracy with political parties in Nigeria. No doubt, Nigerian democracy need to be deepened to broaden the participation of party members in the process of selecting party candidates.
“But given the way some APC leaders are desperately and aggressively campaigning for adoption of the amended Electoral Act as passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, with all its ambiguities, makes it suspect.”
Dr Efe Esan added, “I am a fan of Electronic Transmission from Edo, Ekiti to Anambra gubernatorial elections and would want it consolidated with BIVAS.”
Okechukwu however, summarised that from the foregoing the two leading dominant political parties APC & PDP are for the first time in the last eight years opposed to one issue, direct primary.
And that with electronic transmission, BIVAS Vaccine, henceforth Presidents, Governors, Legislators, appointed officers and political parties are by this legislation willingly compelled to confer loyalty to the electorate not godfathers.