Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has condemned the direct primary option passed by the National Assembly in the Electoral Act amendment, saying it will deny political party members from making their own decisions.
Ortom said direct primaries will empower governors to manipulate and dictate for the electorate, which according to him, does not give room for free and fair primary elections like the indirect primary elections.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, Ortom urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the national assembly to disregard direct primary in order to strengthen the democratic system.
He said: “Direct primaries will even give the governors more power to do what they want if they so wish to do it.
“For me, I believe in fairness and justice and I will allow transparency to rule the primaries to the conducted. But honestly, if any governor wants to manipulate the system, the direct primaries will be easier for him than indirect primaries because, in indirect primaries, everybody is there with the governor.
“But in direct primaries, not everybody will be there and so, the governor can find a way of sending electoral officers at the party level who will conduct the primaries.
“But when it is indirect primaries, those who are elected by the people from the various council, wards, and the statutory delegates, they converge in the electoral college and everybody will be there.
“So, if there is any form of injustice that is being meted out, the people will be there to resist it right there in the presence of the governor. But for direct primary, the governor has access in the whole system and no one can stop him.
“Now, talking about direct primary alone is not leaving any room for that. I still want to appeal to Mr. President to reconsider that bill and send it back to the National Assembly and allow the political parties to decide whether to adopt indirect or direct primaries depending on what the people want.
“This will help and encourage democratic norms because even the indirect primaries, it is the same people that are involved.
“Here in the electoral college, everybody is under one roof. So, issues of transparency, fairness, and equity are easy to achieve at that level. But for indirect primaries that INEC has to monitor, INEC does not have the capacity.”