Understanding Direct Primary Elections

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Senate, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud 

Understanding Direct Primary Elections

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The Senate and House of Representatives recently unanimously approved Direct Primary Elections for all political parties for the emergence of their candidates for general elections.

What To Know

1. EVERY REGISTERED PARTY MEMBER CAN PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIMARIES (ELECTION/SELECTION OF PARTY CANDIDATES).

2. IT IS CARRIED OUT AT (POLITICAL) WARD LEVEL; ALL WARDS OF THE STATE.

3. THE WARD CHAIRMEN AND SECRETARIES WILL BE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CONDUCTING THE PRIMARIES.

4. THE ELECTORAL ACT STIPULATES THAT RESULTS SHALL BE TRANSMITTED ELECTRONICALLY.

5.  DELEGATES AND SPECIAL DELEGATES ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVELY CANCELLED.

6. POLITICAL PARTIES SHALL APPOINT RETURNING OFFICERS RESPONSIBLE FOR FINAL COLLATION OF RESULTS.

7. INEC SHALL BE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SUPERVISION OF THE CONDUCT OF THE PRIMARIES AT ALL LEVELS.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PRIMARIES;

1. IDENTIFY YOUR POLITICAL UNIT/WARD;

2. IDENTIFY THE WARD CHAIRMAN OF YOUR POLITICAL PARTY IN YOUR LGA;

3. APPROACH YOUR WARD PARTY CHAIRMAN TO REGISTER YOU AS A PARTY MEMBER;

(REMEMBER THAT IT IS YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REGISTER WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY OF YOUR CHOICE; NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO DENY YOU REGISTRATION WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY; AND IF YOU ARE DENIED, YOU CAN DUTIFULLY REGISTER YOUR COMPLAINT WITH A COURT OF LAW; THIS WILL SERVE AS A BASIS FOR LITIGATION IN AN ELECTION TRIBUNAL.

4. ONCE REGISTERED, YOU ARE GOING TO BE ISSUED WITH A MEMBERSHIP CARD OR IDENTIFICATION (ALL POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE MEMBERS IDENTIFICATION)

5. THE MEMBERSHIP CARD OR IDENTIFICATION MUST HAVE THE SIGNATURE(S) OF THE FOLLOWING:

i) National Chairman

ii) National Secretary

iii) National Organizing Secretary

iv) Ward Chairman

v) Ward Secretary

6. TRACK AND KNOW THE PARTY PRIMARIES SCHEDULE, WHICH WILL BE RELEASED BY INEC AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME, AND PRESENT YOUR CARD FOR ACCREDITATION AND SUBSEQUENT PARTICIPATION ON THE DAY.

7. JOIN AND VOTE THE CANDIDATE OF YOUR CHOICE, AND WAIT (IF YOU DESIRE) FOR THE COUNTING, E-TRANSMISSION, AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE RESULTS AFTER ELECTION.

Further Clarification

The direct primaries clause was adopted, no doubt, to promote internal democracy in party politics.

The indirect primaries has enabled a few political power brokers to hijack party platforms, at the expense of the majority, by only allowing some carefully selected party delegates to elect select candidates.

Thus, the direct primaries has the following elements:

— Everyone (so long as he/she is a registered party member) can participate in the election/selection process of party candidates.

— Unlike indirect primaries, which is organized in a particular selected venue, and is often restricted to only delegates, the direct primaries takes place at ward levels. This means that all political wards will simultaneously hold the primaries in a state.

— The Ward Chairman and Secretaries will be responsible for conducting and supervising the primaries; They will liaise with the party returning officers and INEC to conduct the primaries in their respective wards.

Meanwhile, INEC has announced the dates for the 2023 general elections as follows:

President, Senate, House of Reps —18th Feb; 2023

Governor, State House of Assembly —4th March, 2023

Inauguration for President, Governors  —29th May, 2023.

Senate/Reps —later date.

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