Yahaya Bello: Governors Are Not Afraid Of Direct Primary — But There Should Be Options
Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi, says governors are not completely against the adoption of direct primary for political parties to select candidates.
Direct primary entails that all party members would be involved in the selection of candidates, while the indirect mode requires the selection of delegates to elect candidates to represent the party.
On Tuesday, both chambers of the national assembly approved the conference committee report on the electoral act amendment bill, which recommends that all political parties must adopt the direct primary mode.
The decision has elicited varied reactions, with stakeholders such as the Peoples Democratic Party kicking against the recommendation.
A meeting of the tripartite committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Tuesday, also failed to reach an agreement on if the ruling party will adopt direct primary.
Speaking on Wednesday in an interview on Channels Television, Bello said the lawmakers should not make laws on the basis of sentiments without considering the situation of the country.
He said the adoption of direct primary will lead to an increase in the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and frustrate small political parties that do not have the resources to organise direct primary.
“On the issue of taking the party back to the people, the question is who took the party away from the people in the first place? Is it the legislature or the executive? I think the party remains with the people,” he said.
“We, as governors, I don’t think anybody is afraid of direct primary. No governor, I can tell you — not APC, not PDP, not APGA; at least these are the parties that we have today.
“Let me tell you that I will always caution that whenever we are making laws or taking decisions, we should not base it on the impulse of the moment.
“We are not saying anybody is afraid of direct primary. The drafters of the party constitution, especially at it affects APC, envisaged that there could be a situation where one particular mode of primary may not be feasible, then you adopt another.
“The drafters envisaged that there are issues like that where there will be options. If you now come up with a legislation and you say it must be one, what happens if a situation arises and congresses cannot be held or primary can’t be held? And you are saying INEC must observe. What happens if such can’t happen? It means there is no primary.
“Let there be options, because if we box ourselves into a corner because of certain perceptions and try to set the people against the party or against the government, we may be consumed at the end of the day.
“I, governor Yahaya Bello, am not afraid of direct primary. In fact, if anything I will even prefer it. I’m confident of my popularity and whoever is popular should go and test popularity at the polls.
“Whether APC governor, PDP governor, any governor at all that is afraid of direct primary means he is not popular and I can assure you no governor is not popular in his state.
“And in any case, I’m telling you of the implication — let the general public not be set against the governors or against the government. We, governors, are all ready for direct primaries.”