Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday, said the electoral body would ensure implementation of direct primary as passed by the National Assembly as soon as it is assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The INEC boss, at an interactive meeting with senior journalists in Lagos, said he had the political will to implement any law that would advance democracy in Nigeria.
By this declaration, the electoral body might have put to rest speculations by opponents of direct primary that INEC may not have the capacity to supervise direct mode of electing party’s candidates if it becomes law.
Yakubu said: “Since it emerged that the direct primary clause was included in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, many of you have been asking the commission for its position. But the issue is not about our position, but the process. In the exercise of its constitutional power, the National Assembly has passed the bill into law awaiting the President’s assent. Once the process is concluded, the bill becomes law and every person and authority in Nigeria, including the commission, must obey.
“The commission will give expeditious consideration to the law, including the detailed regulations and guidelines for its implementation where necessary.”
When asked by The Guardian if the electoral body has the capacity to supervise direct primary if the President assents the bill, he said: “I won’t say more than what I have said. My point is very clear.”
Also speaking on the just-concluded Anambra State governorship election, Yakubu said despite the fact that the election was conducted under difficult circumstances, the commission was able to conduct credible and fair election, noting that few technical glitches experienced during the poll would be corrected before 2023 general elections.
He blamed the technical issues on some trained ad-hoc members of staff that absconded few hours to the election and difficulties posed by commercial transport owners hired to carry technical officers to some areas.
“I want to reassure Nigerians that we have learnt vital lessons from the Anambra pilot. There will be remarkable improvement in the next major election, which is the end-of-tenure area council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) scheduled to hold on February 12, 2022,” he said.