As the country awaits President Muhammadu Buhari to decide on the electoral act 2021 bill, ‘Civil Society Partners on Electoral Reform’ have disputed the N500 billion cost to organise direct primaries, describing it as a hoax.
The CSOs have, however, provided alternative estimates in four categories that could “guide the thinking of those who want to buy into the ridiculous N500 billion projection.”
The groups said it would cost INEC “far less to organise direct primaries for the 18 political parties”.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the House of Representatives resolved to invite the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Chairman (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, over the cost implication of direct primaries, which has elicited controversies in recent months..
The lower chamber had directed the House Committees on Appropriations and Electoral Matters to interface with the INEC boss over the cost implication of direct primaries.
This resolution was a sequel to a motion moved by Leke Abejide (ADC, Kogi) on the floor of the House.
In his motion, Mr Abejide had referred to a report that it would cost N500 billion for the commission to supervise direct primaries by all the political parties.
“Some people say it will cost N500 billion. This is mere speculation because the cost of direct primaries may be within the budget of INEC,” the lawmaker said.
The lawmakers want all political parties to select their candidates for elections through direct primaries, which involve voting by all members of a party.
They included the direct primaries clause in the electoral amendment bill they passed and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
The CSOs in a statement issued on Monday by the Executive Director, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and endorsed by Centre for Liberty, Raising New Voices, Youth and Students Advocates for Development Initiative (YSAD), The Nigerian Alliance, The Art and Civics Table and Speak Out Africa Initiative, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the propaganda and sign the bill.
A part of their statement is reproduced below:
“While we are happy that INEC has favourably replied to Mr President’s request, we want to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the rumours, schemings and distractions, and immediately sign the Electoral Act 2021 as a legacy and birthday gift to Nigerians, especially the youths.
“We are not doing the work of INEC, but as stakeholders and partners who have been consistently involved in pushing for the passage and signing of the electoral bill, we owe the public and the nation a duty to dispel the rumour of N500 billion for direct primaries with alternative information.
“Our rough projection on what INEC may be spending only on using NYSC members to monitor the direct primaries system could help to guide the thinking of those who have been decieved or may want to buy into the ridiculous figure in circulation.
“Bear in mind that we do not expect that all the 18 political parties will have candidates for every position in the five categories of the general elections and will be able to conduct direct primaries in all the 8809 wards.
“By our rough estimates: at N30,000 each for 17,628 NYSC monitors, participating in five primaries of 18 political parties, it will cost 47,568,600,000;
“At N20,000 each for 17,628 NYSC monitors, participating in five primaries of 18 political parties, it will cost 31,712,400,000;
“At N10,000 each for 17,628 NYSC monitors, participating in five primaries of 18 political parties, it will cost 15,856,200,000.
“By our observation, the two major parties (PDP & APC) may decide to merge their primaries and reduce it from five to two or three (just like the general elections that will be conducted on two separate dates).
“Also, we expect the other 16 smaller parties to continue their simple process of selecting candidates because of lack of presence in every ward and the logistics of doing so.
“We, however, concede that INEC is at liberty to deploy one monitor per ward in some cases because there is no major obligation for the commission to perform beyond the constitutional mandate of monitoring party primaries and congresses in this regard…”
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