Kayode Fayemi and Samuel Ortom, governors of Ekiti and Benue states, have lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for withholding his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Governors Fayemi and Ortom made their stance known at different fora on Tuesday while reacting to President Buhari’s withholding of his assent to the bill.
President Buhari had on Monday told the National Assembly via a letter that he declined assent to the bill because of direct primaries, which was made the mandatory mode of primaries for political parties to adopt.
According to the president, foistering direct primaries would be a violation of the rights of political parties and their members, increase the cost occurred by political parties, lead to security challenges and lead to litigation.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, Governor Fayemi said President Buhari should be commended for “his act of courage” in rejecting the bill.
According to the governor, the president withheld his assent because he (Buhari) believes it is fair that political parties are allowed to determine the mode of primaries they want to adopt.
Governor Fayemi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, denied that the president succumbed to pressure mounted on him by governors to reject the bill.
He insisted that neither the president nor state governors are scared of direct primaries as the mode of selecting candidates for elections.
He said: “I don’t know what you mean by governors being happy. At least as a governor who has gone through a series of elections, my election to the office during my first term was via a direct primary that took place in all the 177 wards in my state. And my election to my second term in office was via an indirect primary.
“So, I’ve tasted both. And I can tell you that it really doesn’t matter to any governor whether you have primaries via direct mode or indirect mode. Governors’ concern is that opportunities are given for an inclusive process. And I think that is what Mr. President’s letter has brought out.
“Mr. President has not objected to direct primaries, neither has he endorsed indirect primaries. He has only said ‘be fair to all; let all options apply and what you decide should be determined by your own local and peculiar circumstances’. Being mindful of questions of security, finances, and internal democracy.
“So, I think we all should commend the courage of Mr. President to stand with the people. And the president, you know, just like me, is not afraid of whatever mode you decide to use.
“When I chaired the primaries — the historic primaries that brought him in as a presidential candidate — I was the chair of that primaries in 2014. It was an indirect primary.
“But in 2019, when he was coming back, he came back via direct primary. So, Mr. President has also tasted both. And I don’t think he’s somebody to be lectured about the pros and cons of either process.”