Gov Ortom rejects direct primaries, urges Buhari not to sign bill

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Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has rejected the provision of direct primary election in the Electoral Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly, saying it is not in the best interest of the country.

He therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to assent to the bill when transmitted to him until it is amended to provide for indirect primary election.

Mr Ortom stated this during an interaction with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Senate passed the Electoral Amendment Bill last week with a provision for all political parties to adopt direct primary election in nominating their candidates for the main elections.

The House of Representatives had adopted the direct primary election while passing the bill in July.

The harmonisation committee set up by both chambers adopted the House version, prompting the Senate to review its earlier decision.

Against the 2010 Electoral Act which allows political parties to opt for either direct or indirect mode of primaries, the amended clause of 87(1) by the two chambers said: “a political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the Commission.”

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Mr Ortom said political parties lack the financial resources to conduct direct primaries, adding that they should be allowed to elect delegates who would choose candidates for elections.

He further stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) does not have the capacity to effectively monitor primary elections.

“The electoral law should allow political parties to adopt any of the processes suitable for them in conducting their primaries.

“The adoption of direct party primaries will only give the governors more power to do whatever they want.

“Direct mode of primaries is not in the best interest of Nigeria,” Mr Ortom said.

Buhari has failed

Mr Ortom said the Buhari-led APC federal government has failed the nation, adding that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), would take over power in 2023.

“The Buhari-led federal government has failed in all areas of human development,” he said.

He listed insecurity, crumbling economy and daily challenges of living as some of the worst performance indicators of the Buhari administration, wondering why the president allowed “cabals” to hijack the system and run the country aground.

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“APC’s failure is an opportunity for the PDP to rise and reclaim its mandate of delivering good governance to Nigerians,” Mr Ortom said.

The governor lamented the impact of insecurity on Benue State, citing instances where factory workers were being kidnapped and killed by terrorists, whom he accused the federal government of branding “bandits.”

“Three Benue Indigenes who were on their way to the far North were kidnapped by bandits. Up till now, their abductors have not been found despite taking photographs with their captives,” Mr Ortom said.

“About 2,000 people excluding security operatives have been killed in Benue State by terrorists in the last couple of years.

“But the federal government chose to call these herdsmen militia groups as bandits.”

The governor said the government is unwilling to tackle the security issue.

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