Reps Quiz INEC Over Funding Challenge For Direct Primaries

The House of Representatives has invited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over funding challenges for direct primaries which might spring up when the President signs the amended electoral bill into law.

Some members of the National Assembly have expressed willingness to approve a loan for the Federal Government to fund the 2023 elections should the budget surpass ₦500bn as being speculated.

Africa Today News, New York gathered that this move was in a bid to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari signs the Electoral Act Amendment bill along with the controversial mandatory direct primaries.

The National Assembly had on November 9, 2021, passed the bill which makes it mandatory for all political parties to elect candidates through direct primaries.

The bill was subsequently transmitted to the President on November 19 and is expected to sign it or return it to the National Assembly by December 19.

But the House of Representatives on Thursday said it was willing to allocate the needed funds to INEC to supervise the direct primaries to be conducted by political parties in the election of candidates for the 2023 general elections.

Read Also: Why I Pushed For Direct Primaries, Gbajabiamila Opens Up

The House, therefore, invited the INEC chairman to come and make it known to the parliament what it would cost the country to conduct direct primaries for all parties.

The House is to make the provision in the 2022 Appropriation Bill which is under consideration by the National Assembly.

At the plenary on Thursday, the lawmaker representing Yagba-East/Yagba-West/Mopa-Muro Federal Constituency in Kogi State, Leke Abejide, moved a motion of urgent public importance to urge the House to invite INEC to declare the cost, ‘so that all the insinuations that that are going around can be cleared to the whole nation.’

Moving the motion, Abejide said the INEC chairman should ‘brief the Committee on INEC and Appropriations because now that we are considering the (2022) appropriation that is still within the National Assembly for possible consideration for whatever it is going to cost for these direct primaries.’

The lawmaker added, ‘We are all aware of the importance of direct primary and how it will transfer power to the real people, where they will be able to select or elect the people that will represent them from the Presidency down to the councillorship. And there has been a lot of noise about the cost implications.

‘People have been saying that it will gulp ₦500bn but this is just hearsay, nobody has ever sat down to check the actual cost that it is going to cost the nation. It may be something that is within the capacity of the budget of INEC or something that we can even appropriate for, in this period that we are still considering this budget.

‘So, it is important for us to invite the chairman of INEC to meet with the Committees on INEC in this hallowed chamber, and that on appropriations, for him to be able to tell them what is going to cost to do this direct primary.’

Meanwhile, prominent members of the House of Representatives told one of our correspondents that Nigeria would go ahead with direct primary, no matter the cost.

According to the lawmakers, direct primary is a critical step towards strengthening the country’s democracy.



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