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Nigeria Primary Elections: An electoral scam designed to frustrate and exclude purposeful candidates


Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

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Diaspora Despatch

By LaBode Obanor

When Nigerians go to the polls on February 25, 2023, they will not be voting for the best candidate or the bests of the people’s choice, instead, they will be voting for candidates who had maneuvered, circumvented, and gamed their way to the general election. These candidates would have clinched their party nomination through manipulation, rigging, deceit, and complete fraud.

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At least, this will be the case for the major political parties. It is what ensued in 2020 during the last Presidential primary elections, and it is what will be exposed again in this cycle.

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Before you dismiss me or conclude that this is my usual bombast, please allow me to explain.

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If you have been following the news this past week, you will find that some candidates who lost their primary elections, are already demanding a refund of monies that they paid to delegates to secure their party nomination. Others are exposing the corruption rife in the process. While a few others with integrity or are unable to pay the asking price of the delegates are bowing out of their party primaries or dumping their party entirely.

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These actions leave the least-preferred and often most-corrupt candidate to run away with the nominations.

 

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How did we get here?

 

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Well, party bosses and their dishonest and buyable handlers figured out a way to rig the Electoral Act of 2010.

The act, in section 87, dubbed  “Nominations of Candidate by Parties”  allows political parties to nominate candidates for office in two ways: Direct and Indirect primaries.

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In a Direct primary, found in section 87-(3), all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party. So if a party has 50,000 members nationwide, all the members will vote in a direct primary election, and the candidate with the majority votes wins the normation. The winner’s name is then submitted to INEC as the party candidate for the general election. A simple democratic process.

 

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But 50,000 is a lot of people to bribe if a candidate is determined to manipulate the process. He/she will have to grease the palms of a lot of people to win. This more transparent process makes the direct primary less attractive for the unscrupulous and degenerate politicians as well as the party delegates who profit from the primary system. So political parties rarely use this procedure.

 

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However, In an Indirect primary system, found in Section 87-(4)(a)(i), this is where the shenanigans and all the dance takes place. It states: “…. A party shall hold a special presidential convention in the Federal Capital Territory or any other place within the Federation that is agreed by the National Executive Committee of the party, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at the designated centre, and (ii) the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting, shall be declared the winner of the Presidential primaries of the political party..”

 

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Notice in this Indirect primary procedure, delegates are the ones who vote, in contrast to the Direct primary where all members are allowed to vote.

 

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And who are these delegates only allowed to vote in the Indirect primaries? These are the party bosses, unelected individuals who simply hold office at the ward level, or individuals who have previously held some political post.

 

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Simply put, the Indirect primary system is easily manipulatable or capable of being vandalized because only a few party handlers, called delegates, get to choose the candidate that 210 million Nigerians will vote for. Unsurprisingly, this is the process almost all the political parties use to select their candidate for the general election.

 

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Now you see why the primary election is the make or break for candidates. It is the place where visionless, corrupt, and duplicitous candidate, albeit with deep pockets, gets to buy off these delegates and win the nomination. Whereas good, purposeful, idealistic servant leaders with a heart for the people but with the misfortune of less cash are quickly weeded out.

While APC is the chieftain of the corrupt indirect primary process, PDP in an attempt to outdo their political rival, has been using just a three-person delegate to choose their candidate. So, these three people, artlessly and audaciously are bestowed with the crowning of potential commander in chief and state bosses. Opening room for vote buying and grandiose corruption.

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And these delegates’ votes are usually done in smokescreen neatly blurring the public’s eyes.

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At the general election, Nigeria is left with a binary choice of two dream killers, political vampires, if you will, from the major political parties waiting to suck dry the hopes and dreams of the Nigerian people. Because we can be sure that their elevation to the general election was not through the popular votes but with bribery, cheating, and a lot of hocus-pocus.

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Now you see why the whole election process is a ruse from top to bottom. Some presidential candidates who refused to play party politics or engage in trickery at the primary level have resigned, and some have outrightly dumped their presidential ambition altogether. This is how the country loses the best,  the brightest, and the honest from participating in the political process. Allowing only nation looters, desperate, greedy, lawless, patronizing aristocratic populist creeps to run the country.

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And this is why well-meaning Nigerians, including those in the diaspora, are hesitant to participate in the political process to rescue their country from its precipice because the system is completely broken and rotten from its foundation.

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In order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past, The National Assembly must immediately re-amend the Electoral Act of 2010, erase Section 87-(4)(a)(i), that makes provision for delegates to select presidential candidates, and make political parties accountable to the totality of their members and not a few selected cigar smoking kingpins.

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Only with this reform can we sanitize the electoral process and avoid venal and unprincipled candidates from peculating  the nation’s sacred offices.

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Although, the lessons of this week will not change the outcome of this election, and, we will, again, see voters voting for choices forced on them by gluttonous and ravenous  delegates, the legislature should, Withal, begin to put the interest of the people first by making this reform so that future elections are not tainted, but credible, reflecting the will of the people.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Obanor

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