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Electoral Bill Amendment Crisis: Isiaka Urges Caution, Advocates Medley Of Options

A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Chairman, Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, has urged all sides of the divide to exercise caution and allow better reasoning to prevail in the final determination of the contentious matter.

Isiaka made the statement while fielding questions from journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital on Thursday. It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari declined accent to the bill on grounds which were stated in a letter written to the National Assembly, a day after the expiration of the 30-days window allowed for the President to either sign the bill or decline it.

Isiaka said though the matter was political, it is also a constitutional matter, especially as it affects the rights of individuals, groups and political parties.

According to him, “The singular clause of direct primaries now threatens the whole bill which contains other plausible amendments. I have observed the argument for and against the direct primaries and for me, I think there are merits on both sides. I believe that the guardians of every democracy must seek to improve its electoral process and an abiding part of that is to ensure more inclusiveness, which the direct primaries seeks to provide. It is a sentiment I share”.

“Nevertheless, we must look into our peculiarities and see if indeed our political parties can deal with the complexities of such a process. First challenge will be the party register to be used, whether it aggregates all party members for such an exercise; without it degenerating into rancour and litigation. The second inhibition will be the capacity of the electoral umpire to effectively monitor these exercises for all political parties. The third case is the volume of fund needed to carry out the exercises especially for smaller parties”.

The three-time gubernatorial candidate advocated a medley of options for the National Assembly to reconsider. He said, “I think it may be too soon for us to insist on direct primaries for all parties – which may not be infallible considering the attitude of political players in this clime. I would rather suggest that each political party adopt a process that is convenient for it; either direct primaries or the delegate system. That way, the right of everyone is protected”.

Continuing, “What is important is for the National Assembly and INEC to infuse more safeguards into the main election process so that it reflects the wishes of voters. Subsequently, with more consultations and enlightenment, we can revisit how to push political parties towards the path of more inclusiveness and better internal democracy in the recruitment of candidates”.

He called on the Presidency and National Assembly to be circumspect at this time. “We must not allow the amendment bill become a supremacy battle. It is my hope that reasons would have prevailed after the Yuletide holiday”.

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