Party Primaries and Matters Arising in Nigeria

Writing on politics is a waste of talent and ink, this is the assertion of one of my friend who is also a young writer and journalist.

I think the main reason he said so is the fact that, most of our politicians do not read peoples opinion on newspapers or not interested in using the content.

To me also, anytime I place my fingers on key board to put my opinion on the political atmosphere I feel very bored and tied because the electioneering process in Nigeria is regretting and disguising but we will not keep quiet watching things go the wrong ways without putting in our contributions which might at least bring reforms to the systems.

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Recently, the All Progressive Congress and People Democratic Party conducted their primary elections as mandated by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria that for any person to contest in a political party platforms and it is the choice of that party to conduct primary election or agree to adopt consensus candidate that will compete. The essence of primary election is to give party members a right to have their say in the process, test the popularity of the aspirant and also to present the acceptable aspirant to the citizens. Before going deep into the problems in the process, let me shed more light on the two methods for the sake of understanding the pattern applied.

There are two ways available to conduct party primaries in Nigeria,  that is the direct and indirect method. The direct method simply involves registered members of the party getting an equal opportunity to vote for the flag bearer as the general populace does in a general election. All registered members of a party are allowed to vote in the primary election to elect the party’s representative in the general elections. The indirect method empowers a special group of voters called ‘delegates’ to make the choice for everybody else. Both the two methods were abused and wrongly applied in Nigeria by both the  All Progressive Congress that mixed direct and indirect method while, the PDP conducted indirect primary election and in some cases with parallel factions holding theirs.

Despite the effort made by former INEC Chairman Prof. Attaihiru Jega in 2014 where INEC produced 10-page rules and regulation that guide the conduct of primary elections in Nigeria but it seems the effort has now become a waste and the politicians always becoming expert in manipulating the process.

I was opportune to observe the presidential primaries of some political parties they used the direct and indirect method, what I saw is nothing but the carnival and sharing of money and worse is our youths shouting and wallowing all over the places. The delegates were not interested in the quality and competency of their candidates, I asked one of the delegate`s opinion on the process, which he vividly told me that “I am more interested in knowing the amount to share than the person”. This is only in one of the smaller political parties talkless of the mighty APC and PDP.

There is ongoing crisis in most of the states as a result of irregularities in the party primaries, Zamfara for example where lives of innocent people were lost as a result of selfish interest of few politicians who believed that their choice is only the best option for the state. Also , in Kano and Imo states , where the godfathers appointed their son in-laws to be the candidates, Kaduna intra party fighting between the Governor and the Senator, wife of the president pushing her brother in Adamawa and so many other issues.

Another thing that is fuelling the crisis is how the parties gave automatic tickets to those that defected, no internal democracy and none existence of loyalty to the party. Party members themselves are more loyal to dollars than to an abstract personality that political party.

It is shocking that money played more role in the eyes of the delegates than the integrity and quality of the candidate, Punch Newspaper reported that dollars were shared at the venue of PDP primary election, the person with highest bidder finally got what he wants  and left the other candidates with lower bidder. Don’t expect any body that invested his huge amount of dollars to get party ticket to provide jobs, good roads, health care, education and other social amenities to the wellbeing of the nation.

To make it worse, our political atmosphere is not favourable to young people especially women, the kind of money the parties are demanding for nomination and expression of interest is beyond the reasonable amount that a patriotic young man or woman can afford and most of the young people were seen at the venues of the primaries as either party delegates or thugs but not the aspirants, leaving youth with only contesting under the umbrella of unpopular political platforms, even though some people are of the opinion that popular candidates can contest under any party platforms but Nigerians are more interested in the party than the candidates.

Delegates should take issue based politics rather than money in electing the candidates, that will produce competitive and competent leaders with vision and principles that will steer this country out from the present situation to the more promising and progressive atmosphere.

It is now left for Nigerians to vote wisely and vote the candidates with integrity that will take this country to the Promised Land.

Idris Mohammed is a zonal Program Officer with YIAGA Africa wrote from Abuja.

He tweet @idpyar Mail: idrismpyar@gmail.com