The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, on Wednesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to discard all sorts of distractions from some self-serving politicians bent on influencing him not to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law, but go ahead to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law so that Nigerians would have a say in who becomes their leader right from the political party level.
NUJ National President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, in a statement, yesterday, said: “The NUJ, has taken a critical look at the passage of the Electoral Act Amendment 2021 by the two chambers of the National Assembly particularly with regards to the direct party primaries clause which has become a subject of controversy between members of the Governors Forum, political parties and the legislators.
“Having listened to the arguments for and against the direct party primaries for political parties, we wish to commend the 9th National Assembly for taking the bold steps in trying to fine tune the electoral Bill in a manner that would translate into giving the people the power to determine who should be their leaders as against imposition usually experienced through the indirect primaries where political godfathers are usually the sole determinants of winners without consideration for the people they desire to lead.
“We are, however, curious that some of the politicians that spend billions of Naira in purchasing votes at every election, are now complaining of high cost for direct party primaries. It has to be stated in unambiguous terms that no cost should be considered as too much in entrenching true and acceptable democracy in which the people are the real repository of power.
“The NUJ is particularly pleased to note that President Buhari had assured that having gone through a herculean task before getting to the office as President, he would hand over to Nigerians an electoral system that would be to the benefit of the generality of Nigeria and not for a few.
“The time has come for the President to demonstrate his promise by signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before him to allow the people have a say in who becomes their leader right from the political party.
“Simply put, direct party primaries afford all party members the opportunity to participate in the process of selection of candidates for elective offices. This singular exercise will specifically reduce to the barest minimum if not eliminate the prevalence of imposition of candidates often associated with money bags during Indirect Party Primaries by delegates who are known and easy to buy.
“Critical evaluation has indicated that indirect party primaries have not helped the growth of democracy in Nigeria as political office holders see themselves as being far above their subjects whose mandate they claimed to be holding in trust by making it difficult to hold them accountable as a result of the faulty process which saw them through to the office.
“The National Assembly with the inclusion of direct party primaries in the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 awaiting the President’s assent, has empowered the people with the rights to participate in governance. It is on this note that we passionately appeal to Mr. President not to turn his back on the people at this critical moment in our democracy. President Buhari should not deny the people this vital opportunity.
“The ‘Not too young to run’ policy can only be made effective when the young populations can fully participate in the selection process of their leaders as against the imposition of candidates and godfatherism in our political landscape. This singular act will not only produce competent leaders but will also steer the country to the path of prosperity.
“The NUJ strongly calls on President Buhari to discard all sorts of distractions from some self-serving politicians bent on influencing him not to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law. The President should allow posterity to remember him as one that restored power back to the people and not to be judged on the wrong side of history as he boldly steps towards strengthening the nation’s democracy and good governance.”