‘Direct primary produced Buhari in 2019 without crisis’-Anthony Sani





Oluwafemi Morgan

28 December 2021

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The Immediate Past Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, said that if direct primary which produced President Buhari in 2019 did not bring about any crisis, then the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami was wrong to have advised the President to refuse to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill based on it, and other grounds.

Sani said “we have reacted to the advice by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice which seemed to have informed President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly on why he withheld assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill of 2021.

The Arewa Consultative Forum chieftain, who said he was speaking on behalf of his supporters and many Nigerians asserted that “We had said the reasons given in the letter dwelled more on fears than in real advantages of direct primary in the enhancement of internal democracy in our political parties. So, by saying the amendment as presented would bring about crisis does not make it so, considering the direct primary which produced President Buhari in 2019 did not bring about any crisis”.

Sani further countered the recent statement made by the minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami when he stated that “We had said the reasons given in the letter dwelled more on fears than in real advantages of direct primary in the enhancement of internal democracy in our political parties.”

Furthermore Sani said that the president has surprised Nigerians with his recent reaction towards direct primaries because while many APC states organised indirect primaries to elect their candidates, the president was surefooted
about demanding that direct primaries be conducted in electing the president at the party. He expressed surprise
that many legislators and party loyalists began to deepen internal democracy and remove the power and abuse of the incumbency in the party, based on the Presidents insistence on direct primaries in 2019.

For Sani, the president’s refusal to assent to the Electoral Bill gives an impression that the APC has no position on the important issues of national concern, which portends that the Executive and the legislature, which are controlled by the ruling party are at loggerheads. He advised that the Presidency and the APC legislatures “go back to the drawing board” in other to present a common mandate on electoral reforms for the prosperity of multiparty democracy.

“The president’s letter to the National Assembly has also ignored the important advantages of direct primary which includes improvement of internal democracy of the political parties by doing away with power and abuse of incumbency of governors and money bags who deploy their powers and hijack delegates during the indirect primary. Rather, the president’s letter has dwelled so much on fear to the chagrin of advantages of direct primary.”



He further countered the minister of justice saying that the cost of direct primaries cannot be expensive and that the cost of organising nationwide elections by INEC should not be used to frighten the president over direct primaries in the party, “When the letter talks of the high cost of direct primary, it feigns ignorance of the fact that direct primaries take place either at polling unit level or ward level by only registered party members who are far fewer than registered voters, and that any other exercise is a matter of collation for the relevant constituency, such as state assembly, Chairman of local government, House of Reps, Senate, Governor, and President.”

He added that there exist internal mechanisms within the major parties, like the cost of the nomination forms, which reduce the number of contestants for elective positions. He further noted that he expects smaller parties to merge with the two major political parties when they do not have the resources to elect their flagbearers through the direct primary system.

Sani also said that issues raised such as violation of citizens’ rights, and litigations over direct primaries are not convincing since there are existing laws in the Electoral Act and the constitution that protect the rights of all eligible participants. He urged the President not to give the impression that he is usurping the constitutional powers of the National Assembly “Consultations with stakeholders is good for the health of democracy. Yet, it is not good for our democracy for the president to give any impression that other vested interests have usurped the constitutional functions of the National Assembly.”

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