The Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, on yesterday advocated staggered or phased primaries by political parties to deepen the country’s democracy.Ekweremadu made the submission at a forum on credible electoral processes organised by the FCT branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forum has as its theme: “Credible Electoral Process in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”.
“By staggered primaries, I mean, for instance, holding primaries in different states on different dates for presidential aspirants.“This has been an enduring practice in the USA. In Ghana also, primaries are often phased countrywide in recent times,’’ he said.According to Ekweremadu, such idea will assist in the efficient utilisation of resources , including managing security agencies, monitors from the Electoral Management Body (EMB) and enhancing better scrutiny of candidates.He said that the idea would also help in achieving higher transparency and better management of the primaries.
Ekweremadu calls for the idea to be replicated for gubernatorial primaries where the primary election would hold in different local government councils on different dates.He said that the idea “is however not constitutional or electoral requirement but an initiative by political parties to promote ease of management and transparency of processes for the emergency of their candidates”.The Deputy president of the Senate also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to work on a time frame of every election that would accommodate the conclusion of litigation before the substantive election.
“In Nigeria, primaries are rushed, campaigns are shallow, and conversations are mundane, while some parties and their candidates shun debates outright.“In such circumstances, the electorate are unable to sound candidates out on their mouth-watering campaign promises, especially how they intend to fulfill them. The people realise their mistake after such candidates assume office.“Pre-election litigations also constitute serious impediments to the electoral processes. Early primaries will help the judiciary to conclude all pre-election lawsuits,’’ Ekweremadu said.
The Chairman of the FCT branch of the NBA, Mr Ezenwa Anumnu, attributed the present challenge in Nigeria’s electoral system to lack of technology to put the process in the right track.According to him, “if technology is deployed to assist the country’s electoral system, it will reduce the challenges confronting the system.”