The recent decision of the Nigerian Senate to endorse direct primaries as the method for choosing party flag bearers in the forthcoming 2023 general elections has obviously ruffled the feathers of some party leaders and governors, including those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. Some of those who are uncomfortable with the development have blamed the ruling All Progressives Congress for using their majority position in the senate to push through the option.
However, the move appears to be deliberate one – to check the alleged over bearing influences of governors and some party leaders, who see themselves as alfa and omega, and who singularly should decide who gets what in their parties, and in their states.
With the adoption of the direct primaries, the party members, no longer the governor or one supreme party leader in the state will decide who emerges in any constituency, and where the governor or party leader has an interest, he has to step down from the Olympian height- to consult with other stake holders, and this shall be the situation with direct primaries, irrespective of party, going forward.
This new regime will not only demystify the governors, irrespective of party, it will also cut down the influence of some party leaders with dictatorial tendencies. The implication is that, leaders, who hide under party supremacy to impose candidates, will now have to learn how to work with other stakeholders if they must have their way. And this means that they will no longer be having their way, all the time, as they will now understand what it means to give and to take.
Although the direct primaries may not be a perfect method for choosing party representatives, but the new regime promises to bring about an improvement in the practice of democracy in Nigeria. The reason is because the influence of single individuals will begin to diminish – with the accommodation of the interests of other party stakeholders, unlike the cases in the past where one man insisted on dictating what happened, and who got what at all levels of the party, a tradition that threw some parties into endless crises.
If democracy is truly the government of the people, then direct primaries gives the people the opportunity to freely choose who represents them. The corollary is that. the days when unpopular candidates were foisted on parties, and by extension, the electorates might be over for good, as no one individual can play god any more.