Dogara Harps On Option A4 Method For Party Primaries

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Dogara (m) in a group photograph with the female parliamentarians
 
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara says the adoption of direct voting method where
all card carrying members of parties are allowed to vote to choose
candidates who will represent their parties in elections will ensure that primaries of political parties are transparent
and truly democratic.
The
Speaker said this while responding to a request from a delegation from
the Conference of Female Parliamentarians of State Houses of Assembly,
led by its chairperson, Hon Elizabeth Ativie, at the National Assembly,
that Option A4 should be included in the Electoral Act. 
He
argued that direct primaries is more effective in choosing the true
candidate of the people because it takes away the option of manipulation
of a few delegates by interested parties who have more financial or
political influence.
Speaking on the merits of
Option A4, he said, “it is there in most of the Constitution of our
political parties where primaries are supposed to be by direct or
indirect means. But in most cases, most political parties, if not all,
have always opted for the indirect primaries. To be more candid, direct
primaries can help even in general elections because once a candidate
emerges under those conditions, you will know that he is generally
accepted by the people. 
“When it comes to the
delegate, it has always been very easy for political actors to
manipulate the process. In some cases, someone will house the entire
delegates. If he happens to have a lot of money, he will house them in
hotels, prevent all other candidates from having access to them and is
under that process that the candidate emerges.
The
Speaker maintained that in most cases, the people who  have the
capacity, “either the political will, the financial muscle to do this,
dictate who are the actual representatives from the people.”
“Unfortunately
too, our laws do not help matters since we do not have independent
candidacy. The only requirement is that you must have a political party
platform before you are elected into any office. It therefore means that
something has to be done in order to free the process. In order to
ensure that this process is truly transparent and democratic and the
only way is to let all card carrying members of a political party
participate in the election of their candidate. So to this suggestion,
you already have a convert in me.”
Assuring
them that the House will pass the Gender Equality Bill, he urged the
state legislators to engage with their federal counterparts to ensure
that a consensus is reached on the issues raised.
“We
are aware of the Gender Equality Bill. It is before the National
Assembly and it is before the relevant committees of the House. I
believe that this House that has the responsibility of representing men
and women will do justice to the Bill. Something will come out of the
Bill, it may not be 100 percent in line with our expectations but it is
going to be a compromise bill that will have the effect of balancing,
not overpowering one gender against the other. 
“We
support  equality but in a situation where one gender will be
overloaded against the other, I think we are all people of justice. And
they say justice is indivisible, so justice to a woman must include
justice to a man and justice to a man too, must include justice to a
woman. So that it is the difficult part that we are seeking to achieve,”
he added.
Mr Dogara also informed them that other
areas of concern, including indigeneship for married women and
citizenship for spouses of Nigerian women, will be addressed in the
Constitution Amendment exercise whose report will soon be presented to
the House.
The Speaker also noted that the
House has been gender friendly, with every female member being either a
chairperson or deputy chairperson of a committee of the House, except
for one, Hon Talatu Yohanna who came in following a court verdict after
all the leadership of the  committees had been composed.
He
also urged them to support local government autonomy, independence of
state legislature and separation of powers in all tiers of government
for transparency and accountability.
Earlier,
leader of the delegation, who is also the deputy speaker of Edo State
House of Assembly,  Hon Elizabeth Ativie, urged the Speaker to support
women in politics by advocating for amendment of the Electoral Act to
provide for use of Option A4 in party primaries, quota system in
political parties and appointments for women (35 percent affirmative
action), provide legislation for automatic citizenship for spouses of
Nigerian woman and indigene status for women married to men from other
states in Nigeria.

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