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Reps to probe revenue on sales of forms, alleged party primaries manipulation

by KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja

November 8, 2018 | 5:51 pm
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Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday unveiled plans to investigate the revenue generated by political parties during the conduct of party primaries across the country.

The ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) which imposed the highest price on forms for various political offices, reportedly generated over N6.9 billion from the sales of forms.

To this end, the House resolved to set up an Ad-hoc Committee chaired by Basir Babale (APC-Kano) with the view to investigate the alleged violation of the Electoral Act by political parties with the collusion or acquiescence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), with the view to correcting any defects or strengthening the
Electoral Act.

The Adhoc Committee is also expected look into the income and expenses of the major political parties in the last four years in line with Section 226 of the Constitution.

The resolution was passed after robust debate on a motion sponsored by
Chika Adamu (APC-Niger), during which some aggrieved lawmakers across
all the political parties expressed grave concerns over the
highhandedness of the leadership of political parties and State
Governors.

Unconfirmed report put the number of members of the Green Chamber who
lost out of the party primaries at 252 out of 360.

Some of the aggrieved federal lawmakers have formally defected to
other minor parties where they were offered automatic tickets.

In his lead debate, Adamu (APC-Niger) who cited Order 8, Rule 4 of the
House Standing Orders decried the lack of internal democracy during
the conduct of party primaries in Niger State.

Chika who noted that congresses should be regulated by the party
constitution as well as the Electoral Act, frowned at the widespread
reports of irregularities recorded during the process owing to brazen
disregard for both the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the
Electoral Act.

He also decried scenarios where some place parties refused to conduct
primaries thereby violating Section 87(10) of the Electoral Act which
led to crisis in some chapters of political parties.

“The House notes that the Congresses/primaries of all political
parties are regulated by Tuesday constitution of the parties and the
Electoral Act. The worried by widespread reports of irregularities
that attended the congresses of the parties held between September and
the first week of October.

“The House is disturbed that many of turn parties in many states
neglected or failed to adhere to the provisions of both the
constitution of their parties and the electoral Act with regard to the
holding of primaries.

“The House further disturbed that some of the parties brazenly refused
to hold primaries in contravention of Section 87(10) of the Electoral
Act which makes it mandatory for parties to hold primaries, thereby
leading to crisis in some state chapters,” Adamu stressed.

Citing the case of APC primaries in Niger state, the lawmaker lamented
situations whereby Governors assumed the positions of demi-gods by
imposing candidates on the parties.

“I am concerned that governors in many states interfered with the
elections by either imposing their preferred stooges as candidates on
parties and ensured that some aspirants were denied the right to
participate or were shortchanged.

“Aspirants for the House of Representatives and the state House of
Assembly were denied the opportunity to contest the primaries even
after they purchased forms and were screened.

“I will speak on the primaries for the House of Reps and State House
Assembly. We bought forms and were screened, direct primaries was
adopted and set for  6th october. On that day, election materials were
said to have been disbursed but I can tell you that no contestant can
say he saw details of the result because no election held.

“Sadly, the Governor after his own affirmation, left the state and
when he was confronted, he said that President Buhari asked that
tickets be given to the most popular candidates which is contrary to
APC constitution; Governors are not disciples or prophets. Even
President Buhari is not one.

“Niger state is facing neo-colonization because this also affected
State Assembly aspirants; we must kick against this practice if we
want to grow our democracy”, Chika stated.

He argued that: “if legislative measures are not adopted to address
this dangerous drift, the National Assembly, may in the nearest
future, be the assemblage of governors stooges to the detriment of our
democracy and the interest of the electorate.”

According to him, “No aspirant can say he got the result of the
election. You can only know it through your agent, but to say you have
it, it is a lie! Somebody contested for Senate but he was given the
ticket of the House of Representatives. Niger has moved from poverty
to hopelessness. I wish the President will follow the Governor to
Niger State to see.

“We are facing neo-colonialism in Niger in the sense that what
happened to the House of Representatives happened to the State
Assembly for refusing the governor from obtaining a loan.”

On her part, Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu (PDP-Abia), contended that Nigerians
are not getting the kinds of leaders they deserve due to electoral
malpractices, stating that “if the process that throws up leaders is
flawed, I do not believe our democracy will be stronger.”

While condemning the proliferation of arms during party primaries,
Elendu-Ukeje queried why elections should be conducted like a coup.

Also speaking, Muhammad Soba (PDP-Kaduna), argued noted that “direct
and indirect primary created direct and indirect grievances,” lamented
that despite the fact that “forms are sold to members at exorbitant
prices, tickets were purchased in open market.”

While expressing disgust over the conduct of party primaries in Ogun
State, Adekunle Akinlade (APC-Ogun) urged the House to “take a
position on what is happening.”

In his argument, Yussuff Lasun, Deputy Speaker of the House of
Representatives who vied for Governorship of Osun State also narrated
his ordeal during the exercise.

While stressing the need for the delineation of federal
constituencies, said: “We went to court and got favourable judgment
but INEC continues to give excuses. In Osun alone, we have four
constituencies which would have been eight constituencies,” stressing
that “INEC should look into this matter and conduct elections in these
constituencies.”

In his view, Gabriel Onyenwife (APGA-Anambra) berated INEC for
refusing to honour a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction.

“We are in a democracy and in constitutional democracy, when matters
arise and they result in a judgment of a court of competent
jurisdiction, we have no choice than to comply,” he said.

While ruling, Speaker Yakubu Dogara who cited the provisions of
Sections 112 and 91 of the 1999 Constitution, argued that Bauchi State
which suppose to have a minimum of 36 and 46 maximum state
constituencies, has 31 constituencies by default.

“We cannot choose the judgment to obey. INEC has to implement the
judgment to the letter. It is surprising that party to the judgment
will be foot dragging. INEC action should not be condemned, it should
be totally condemned.”

 

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja


by KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja

November 8, 2018 | 5:51 pm
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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