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Ortom Rejects Direct Primaries, Says Process Easier To Manipulate 

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom

November 17, (THEWILL) – Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom has faulted the choice of direct primaries as the sole means of parties to select their candidates  as proposed in the 2010 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, recently passed  by the National Assembly .

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday,  the governor said, unlike the indirect primary, which can be monitored closely and manipulation resisted by interested parties, there will hardly be enough eyes on the venue of the direct primary process.

He said: “Direct primaries will even give the governors more power to do what they want if they so wish to do it.

“For me, I believe in fairness and justice and I will allow transparency to rule the primaries to be conducted. But honestly, if any governor wants to manipulate the system, the direct primaries will be easier for him than indirect primaries because, in indirect primaries, everybody is there with the governor.

“But in direct primaries, not everybody will be there and so, the governor can find a way of sending electoral officers at the party level who will conduct the primaries.

“But when there are indirect primaries, those who are elected by the people from the various councils, wards, and the statutory delegates, they converge in the electoral college and everybody will be there.

“So, if there is any form of injustice that is being meted out, the people will be there to resist it right there in the presence of the governor. But for a direct primary, the governor has access to the whole system and no one can stop him.”

Governor Ortom, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to reject the Electoral Act Amendment Bill recently passed by the National Assembly and allowed political parties to decide the mode of selecting their candidates for elections.

While noting that the direct primary is more disorderly and more expensive to handle, he further said: “Indirect primary did not just arrive. It is the same people that elect delegates that go to the electoral college.

“Now, talking about direct primary alone is not leaving any room for that. I still want to appeal to Mr. President to reconsider that bill and send it back to the National Assembly and allow the political parties to decide whether to adopt indirect or direct primaries depending on what the people want.

“This will help and encourage democratic norms because even the indirect primaries, it is the same people that are involved.

“Here in the electoral college, everybody is under one roof. So, issues of transparency, fairness, and equity are easy to achieve at that level. But for indirect primaries that INEC has to monitor, INEC does not have the capacity.”