Sign electoral bill before 2022, PDP chieftain urges Buhari

Dr Adetokunbo Pearse, a Lagos Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, says President Muhammadu Buhari will do well for the nation to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law before 2022.

Pearse, the Convener, Reset Lagos PDP group, made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday.

NAN reports that both chambers of the National Assembly – the Senate and the House of Representatives – had passed the bill and transmitted same to the President for assent.

The bill, if assented to by the President, would allow electronic transmission of election results, nomination of party’s flag-bearers through direct primaries among other innovations into the electoral system.

“The Amended Electoral Bill which proposes direct voting during party primaries is an endorsement of the democratic principle of equal opportunity for all.

“When bonafide members of a political party are able to choose those to represent them from the party primaries, which is the first step toward the General Elections, they develop a sense of belonging.

“They are more likely to turn out on General Election day to vote, because they were the ones who chose the party’s candidate in the first place.”

According to him, in indirect primaries, about 90 per cent of party members are mere onlookers during the process as it only allows few agents or delegates to pick flag-bearers.

Pearse attributed the current trend of voter apathy during elections to the disenfranchisement of party members in the selection process of nominated candidates.

“There is little incentive to vote for candidates the members hardly know. This partly accounts for the voter apathy in our elections.

“Remember that the aspirants only need to direct their campaign to delegates and not to the entire party in the indirect primaries format.

“Delegates are comparatively fewer in number, easier to manipulate, and cheaper to afford.

“It will be much more difficult to buy the votes of millions of voters. As things stand, it is usually the highest bidder who wins in our primary elections.

“The outcome of general elections, where we have direct voting, is decided more by the voter’s interest in the candidates,” Pearse said.

He said that arguments from some quarters that direct primaries would be more cumbersome and more expensive for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are insignificant when compared to the merits.

He said that these arguments might be the price the nation had to pay in order to reduce corruption in the electoral process, and to enhance the integrity of elections.

“Direct primaries is the lesser of two evils. Democracy itself is not perfect. Perhaps it is because they understand the benefits of direct primaries over indirect primaries. Most advanced democracies have adopted the practice of direct voting in their primary elections.

Pearse added that the electronic transmission of election results was the best thing to also happen to the nation’s democracy. (NAN)