The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabimila, has said he pushed for the direct primary clause in the Electoral Amendment Bill because the Not-Too-Young Act is not addressing the exclusion of youth in politics.
He said the youth have not been able to capitalise on the Act because the needed environment has not been provided.
Mr Gbajabiamila said this when the Minister of Youths and Sport, Sunday Dare, led some youth to pay him a courtesy visit in Abuja on Friday.
The Speaker moved the amendment to introduce direct primaries during the clause by clause consideration of the Electoral Bill in July.
The Not-Too-Young-To-Run is an act of parliament which sought to reduce the age limit for contesting elective offices in the country.
The bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 31, 2018.
Mr Gbajabiamila said the Act appears to be a ‘paper tiger’ and does not address the aspiration of youths.
“Since the Not-Too-Young-To-Run became law, you have not taken advantage of that. The Act appears to be a paper tiger. The enabling environment to work for that Act isn’t capitalized on,” he said.
Explaining the reasons for the direct primary clause, the Speaker said it would lead to the recruitment of the youth for leadership positions.
“If I know that my return will depend on some few men, I may not care about you. But if I know that my return will depend on my accountability and representation to the people, I will do the right thing.
“It is important for this generation to open the door of leadership to the next generation. We must allow every Nigerian to participate fully in the process of leadership. I, therefore, stand with direct primaries.
“That’s why I said at different fora that I’m for direct primaries. We have to do this for the sake of the institution,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.
Direct primary election is the mode of election where registered members of a party vote for who they want to be the candidate of their party.
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Indirect primary election is the mode where party members elect delegates who in turn elect the party’s candidates on their behalf.
The Senate also adopted the position of the House on the direct primaries.
The adoption of direct primaries by the two chambers of the National Assembly is generating reaction from some quarters, including governors.
On Monday, the APC governors under the aegis of Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), opposed the clause.
The Chairman of the forum, Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, after the meeting of the governors, said the political parties should be allowed to decide on the mode of selecting candidates.
The Electoral Bill will be transmitted to Mr Buhari within the next seven days according to the spokesperson of the House, Ben Kalu (APC, Abia).
Earlier, Mr Dare said delegation visited the speaker to commend him for the amendment.
He said, “Between 65 per cent and 70 per cent of our population are less than 25 years. So, we can’t ignore the youth.”