Party Primaries: Matters Arising On Consensus Option

By Yusuf Shehu Usman

It’s interesting that the NASS has agreed on consensus as one of the ways candidates may emerge from Primaries of Political parties
In doing so, they also laid down the procedures for effecting a consensus, among which are the requirements that all the aspirants involved in the consensus proceedings must accept the result of the consensus in writing
Also, it’s part of the requirements of a valid consensus that the parties that midwifed the consensus must also attest to the veracity of the process and in writing
All these may be achieved under the guidance and control of the critical stakeholders of the political parties that have settled on consensus as the mode of Primary election adopted by the party for the emergence of its candidates for the secondary election
There is also a final requirement that seals the consensus proceedings
It is called AFFIRMATION by the party members
The problem with this requirement of affirmation which is not clear from the report emanating from the National Assembly is, what is the legal meaning and effect of the affirmation that defines the validity of the consensus?
Who are the parties to the affirmation and how will they be determined?
It is also pertinent to explain in legal terms whether the affirmation should be unanimous or by a simple or two third majority of the “affirmatees” present and voting or will the affirmation be by way of a voice vote?
If it will be by voice vote, it will certainly be open to manipulation or fraud, knowing the way we do things in the nature of Nigerian politics
It would be recalled that in previous Primaries and even in recent congresses of some political parties, some states were reported to have adopted the consensus option
And, what did they do?
Some who called themselves critical stakeholders met, drew out a list of aspirants, made their own choices and asked the party members to affirm the candidates as consensus candidates
Is that the kind of consensus by affirmation envisaged under the new amendment to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill?
If it is, it can be said that nothing will change and consensus like indirect Primaries can easily be manipulated to achieve an imposition of candidates

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