By Henry Umoru
STRONG indications have emerged that the leadership of the Senate has concluded arrangements to force direct method of primary election on political parties.
It was gathered that the ruling party at the federal level, the All Progressives Congress, APC, wants to bring to the floor of the Senate during plenary session the direct primary through an Amendment Bill to be passed by the Senate, using its numerical strength.
According to a source, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, his Deputy, Senator Ovie Omo Agege, APC, Delta Central and other principal officers of the ruling party have concluded plans to bring to the floor a decision which had been discussed and considered, even as a Conference Committee on Electoral Act Amendments has been set up in the Senate and the House of Representatives to harmonize positions on the matter.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had passed how parties will conduct their primaries, even as the version passed by the Lower House is direct primary while the Senate passed direct and indirect methods as it used to be.
With the different positions of both chambers, Conference Committee was set up to come up with a common stand on the method to use, just as members of the Conference Committee of the House of Representatives were said to have agreed with the Senate on both direct and indirect.
As gathered, a meeting of the Conference Committee of both chambers was to hold on Friday at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but the Clerk of the Committee was said to have been asked to put off the meeting where they would have agreed on direct and indirect primaries.
According to a source, the meeting did not hold because the President of the Senate and his Deputy are said to be afraid that the Conference Committee may not do their bidding which explains why the matter against parliamentary proceedings will be brought up in order to use the majority position of APC to achieve this.
With this development, if it is achieved in the Senate, there will be no need for harmonization to be carried out by the Conference Committee.
The source said, “How parties will conduct their primaries has been passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House passed a version and said they want direct primary, the Senate passed that says it wants both direct and indirect which has always been what was there.
“ Now, a Conference Committee on Electoral Act Amendments has been set up, they were supposed to meet on Friday, but the Clerk wrote to inform that the meeting has been put off, only for us to hear from the grapevine that the Senate wants to bring back that which has been passed to the floor on Tuesday so that they can use their weight as they have always done to pass only the direct method of primary.
“What it means is that if they bring it to the floor, it will pass and it means that if it passes through direct, there will be no need for harmonization by the Committee. The Senate President and especially his Deputy want to bring it to the floor because they are afraid that the Conference Committee will not be able to give them what they want and that is direct primary Even the House Committee wants it to be followed by accepting the Senate version of direct and indirect.
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“Now the Senate President wants to impose direct primary on Nigerians. The Senate had agreed on direct, but the leadership of the Senate wants to turn around by bringing up at plenary on Tuesday a decision which had been reached and a Conference Committee set up.
“Now you want to bring it back at plenary as Constitution Amendment when everything has been settled. Right now, it is personal Interest at play.
“When APC did direct primary to get President Muhammadu Buhari as the candidate, it claimed that Buhari scored 52 million, but during the real election where both APC and non-APC voted for him, it was 13million.”
Recall that the Senate had last month set up a Conference Committee to harmonize positions on the Electoral Act Amendments Bill.
Lawan, who announced this during plenary, had said that the Conference Committee will work with that of the House of Representatives in order to be on the same page on electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to Lawan, Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North will be the leader of the team.
Other members are Senators Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South to represent North West; Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central for North East; Uche Ekwunife, PDP, Anambra Central for South East; Sani Mohammed Musa, APC, Niger East for North Central; Ajibola Basiru, APC, Osun Central for South West and Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South.
Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila had also put up a Conference Committee with Akeem Adeyemi as Chairman; James Faleke; Chris Azubogu; Abdullahi Katambaine; Blessing Onuh; Aisha Dukku and Unyime Idem as members.
Recall that of the seven members for the Conference, while only Senator Urhoghide voted YES Electronic transmission of election results, Senator Ekwunife was absent during the voting time and the other five members who are of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC voted NO for electronic transmission of election results.