Ex-Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekwerwmadu has given his personal assessment of the just concluded primary elections by political parties into various political offices and said, “narrow political interests” has affected the 2022 Electoral Act as amended.
He said the direct mode of primary election is the only viable alternative in the nomination of candidates in order to consolidate Nigeria’s democracy.
The lawmaker decried the overwhelming negative interests of desperate politicians that made nonsense of the 2022 Electoral Act.
On security challenges, he feared that Nigeria was gradually turning into another Somalia, if nothing was urgently done to tackle terrorists, adding that the time has come for the Federal Government to seek the help of the international community to flush out terrorist cartels.
Ekweremadu spoke at a lecture in Abuja on Tuesday.
“When we mounted the leadership of the 6th National Assembly in 2007, and in subsequent Assemblies, we took it upon ourselves to reform the electoral system, including strengthening the critical institutions in the electoral process, namely the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the political parties,” he said.
Ekwerwmadu said the parliament’s intervention in affairs of INEC has stabilised and improved the umpire, while he pointed out those areas to include, “financial autonomy for the INEC; administrative autonomy for the INEC; removal of membership of a political party as a qualification for appointment into the INEC; early release of funds to INEC; early primaries to allow time for resolving any issues, while also allowing the INEC 360 days to prepare for elections; barring of the INEC from rejecting/disqualifying candidates; removal of the INEC officials as respondents in election petitions; removal of restriction on electronic voting; legal backing for smart card readers and any other voter accreditation technology that the INEC may deploy; and electronic transfer of results; and ending of disqualification of candidates by administrative panels.”
According to him, “compulsory conduct of party primaries to address the issue of impositions; substitution of candidates only in the event of death or written withdrawal by a candidate; early commencement of election campaigns; empowerment of political parties to conduct primary election to replace a candidate who died in the course of an election; timeframe for determination of pre-election matters; timeframe for determination of election petitions; stoppage of government subventions for political parties; window for direct primaries; reduction of age qualification for political offices; stipulation of the conditions and process for deregistration of political parties, among other vital reforms.”