Buhari is in support of direct primary, says Gbajabiamila | Dailytrust

Buhari is in support of direct primary, says Gbajabiamila

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says President Muhammadu Buhari is in support of the direct primary which allows all card...

Femi Gbajabiamila,
Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria
Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says President Muhammadu Buhari is in support of the direct primary which allows all card carrying members of political parties to be involved in the choice of candidates for major elections.

He said this on Thursday while responding to questions from State House reporters after a meeting with the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The speaker said the National Assembly backed direct primary because it would activate the implementation of the Not Too Young To Run Bill signed by Buhari to enable young Nigerians to participate in governance.

He said the revised Electoral Act which approved direct primary as sole method to produce candidates for all elective positions would soon be transmitted to the President for assent.

Responding to a question on the bill, he said: “Mr President has always been. We all know that. The whole world know that. He has always been from his inception in politics because he is a very popular man.”

On his discussion with the president, he said, “Several issues, which one are you interested in? I will tell you whether it was part of it or not. Yes, the issue of national development and the synergy with the National Assembly.

“This tripartite committee, if I tell you we didn’t discuss the Electoral Act amendment, which is what I am sure you are asking about, if I tell you we didn’t discuss that, I will be lying to you. We had a very robust discussion. And our position is known to the President.”

When asked to reveal the official position of the National Assembly, Gbajabiamila said: “Are you not aware that the National Assembly has passed the issue of direct primaries and electronic transmission of election results. That is the position of National Assembly.

“It has passed through both houses. We have passed the law. The official position of House of Representatives and the Senate, we are for direct primaries. We are for empowering the people at the grassroots level. Let everybody participate in governance. Democracy is defined as government of the people, for the people and by the people. People is used three times in that definition. And it doesn’t start from general elections. It starts from primaries. So, we have made it very clear abundantly.”

Gbajabiamila, while justifying the insistence of the National Assembly on direct primary, said, “It has been like that for a long time and it’s not helping our democracy. It is not growing and deepening our democracy. We have passed Not Too Young To Run Bill which the President was very happy to be a part of because he wants to encourage young people. But it’s just a bill on paper. You pass Not Too Young To Run Bill but at the same time you close the space for the young ones for whom you have passed Not Too Young To Run Bill. “You have continued with your indirect primaries. How will the young people get involved? Now, they have a chance with the direct primaries. You have opened up the space and they can get in and mobilise themselves and if they are popular enough, they win the election. They are not dependent on any godfather.”

While reacting to the view expressed by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State that it would be too expensive for political parties and INEC to handle direct primaries, he said: “Here is what I have to say. I have heard that argument about cost. And this is what I have to say. Do you put a price tag to democracy? I don’t think you should. What is too much and what is too little to buy freedom and democracy? I don’t think you should put a price tag to it. So, how much will be okay for him? He should tell us how much will be okay for him.”

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