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ACN Decries Lawmakers' Move To Regulate Party Primaries

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ABUJA, Nov 07, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described as a wrong move and a damper on democracy the plan by the National Assembly to smuggle a clause into the Electoral Act that will regulate party primaries.

In a statement issued in Abuja today by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party urged the state Houses of Assembly to reject the insertion of such clause in the Act, saying the move is not only undemocratic but also robs the parties of the opportunity to determine how their candidates will emerge.

It said asking all parties to amend their constitutions and adopt the prescription for primaries is like prescribing one medicine for all ailments.

''This is wrong. It is not for the National Assembly or INEC to tell all parties how to conduct their primaries. Democracy cannot grow through such regimentation. We reject it in its entirety!

''The talk about internal democracy, as a reason for regulating party primaries, by the PDP-led National Assembly, is a smokescreen, a self-serving move. The real intention is to satisfy a faction of the PDP, a party that has a huge problem that may prevent many from getting the party's ticket.

''Yes we believe in internal democracy. But for democracy to thrive, it cannot be regulated in political parties. Parties are voluntary associations. People must be free to join whichever one they like, once they are willing to abide by their own rules and regulations, their own constitutions, as long as such constitutions do not offend the Nigerian constitution.

''There is also the issue of cost. If you say all parties must conduct their primaries in the 774 local governments and the 36 states, who will provide the huge funds for such venture?'' ACN queried.

The party said that even in advanced democracies, there is no uniformity or regimentation in the way candidates emerge, adding that while parties in the UK, Australia and Canada do not use primaries to determine how their candidates emerge, the opposite is the case in the US. Yet, no one has accused parties in the UK, Australiaor Canada of lacking internal democracy, nor has anyone described their democracy as inferior to that of the US.

ACN said while the key issue in determining the candidates to fly its flag will be the ability of such candidates to project the party's creed and ethics, other parties may have different issues to consider, hence it will be wrong for all the parties to use the same omnibus prescription by an overbearing National Assembly or an acquiescing INEC.

It also noted that while the President may want to smuggle in a position that favours him, like those seeking to make ministers and other public office holder’s automatic delegates, ACN and perhaps other parties do not have any need for such clauses and should not expect to be bound by such self-serving position.