ELECTORAL ACT AMENDMENT BILL: PARTIES SHOULD DEMOCRATICALLY DETERMINE THEIR MODE OF PRIMARIES
SPN WELCOMES ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) notes that President Muhammadu Buhari has withheld assent to the Electoral Act 2021 amendment bill sent to him by the National Assembly. The President rejected the bill purportedly because it removes the provision for indirect primaries, making direct primaries by all political parties mandatory. The bill also makes provisions for the electronic transmission of results.
We see the controversy over the amendment bill as a reflection of infighting between two different sections of the same thieving elite. The different positions held by the President and National Assembly on direct primaries are driven by their self-serving, short-term interest and not the quest to strengthen democracy as they both claim.
The fact is that the members of the National Assembly want to make direct primary mandatory because they believe it would make it easy for them to get the return tickets. On his part, President Buhari is out to protect the interest of state governors who consider it easier through indirect primaries to impose candidates or secure tickets for re-election or senatorial seats, which have become the playing ground of the former governors.
We hold that direct primaries are not a panacea for the problem of the imposition of candidates by governors and godfathers as the experiences of what obtains in both APC and PDP have shown. Besides, it is illogical to think that the thieving politicians in both APC and PDP, for instance, who buy votes and perpetuate mass riggings in the general elections, cannot do same in the primary elections, whether it is through direct or indirect arrangement. For instance, a recent judgment by the Federal High Court held that the direct primary election of APC in Anambra was rigged in favour of Andy Uba to emerge as the party candidate for the last gubernatorial election in the state.
More importantly, regardless of which mode of primary election is used, any candidate who emerges from the anti-poor, pro-capitalist parties like APC and PDP cannot fundamentally represent or defend the interests of working masses and the poor. So ordinary people must not line themselves up behind any of the sections in this fight. They are both united against the poor in the government policies and actions.
For instance, the National Assembly endorses all anti-poor policies of President Buhari which have worsened living conditions of the people. They also worked together to smuggle into the Constitution the provisions that prevent any small political parties that represent the interest of the poor like the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) to grow organically by disqualifying them, under the guise of purportedly poor performance, even at the first attempt, in elections massively rigged by both APC and PDP with the connivance of the INEC.
Therefore, it should not be a concern to the ordinary people how APC, PDP or other anti-poor political parties choose their candidates. Rather, working people should be prepared to reject them at the polls.
Nevertheless, while we do not support either of the parties in the current dispute, we strongly hold that the mode of primary election, direct or indirect, should be an internal democratic decision of any party, not an imposition by an external law. It is the party members that should fight for the respect of their democratic right to truly choose their candidates in whatever form they deem desirable.
We welcome the introduction of the provision for the electronic transmission of election results. However, we warn that it is not enough to prevent rigging and manipulation by parties like APC and PDP which have access to stolen public resources to bribe electoral officers and security operatives in order to feed manipulated results into the electronic transmission medium.
More importantly, any reform in the electoral system cannot be a benefit to the working masses without a party that truly represents the aspiration and yearnings of the people at the poll. Therefore, we call on working people and youth to support the SPN and initiatives for the formation of a mass working peoples’ party on a socialist programme that can wrest power from the thieving elite, currently politically represented by APC, PDP, APGA etc., in order to use the human and material resources of the country for the benefit of the vast majority of the populace.
Acting National Chairperson