Former Governor of Ogun State and one of the top leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Olusegun Osoba, has thrown his weight behind the use of direct primary as a means of selecting candidates of all political parties as contained in the newly passed Electoral Amendment Act.
Addressing a delegation of senators across political party lines and geo-political zones of Nigeria, who visited him in London to wish him speedy recovery from a recent knee surgery, Osoba, now hale and hearty and walking up and down staircase of his two storey apartment, appealed to President Mohammadu Buhari to sign the newly passed Electoral Act, stressing that the president is a product of direct primary.
The delegation comprised of Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West), Senator Kashim Shetima (APC, Borno Central), Senator Isah Jubril(APC, Kogi East), Senator Micheal Nnachi(PDP, Ebonyi South), Senator Ayo Akinyelure(PDP, Ondo Central), Senator Gershon Bassey(PDP, Cross River South), Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf(APC, Taraba Central), Senator Sadiq Sulaiman Umar(APC, Kwara North), Senator Tokunbo Abiru(APC, Lagos East) Senator Bashiru Ajibola(APC, Osun Central) and Senator Hassan Mohamed Gusau(APC, Zamfara Central).
Osoba said: “I have a feeling he will sign it. The president himself is a product of direct primary. He submitted himself to direct primary in 2019 throughout the country, heaven did not fall. After he subjected himself to direct primary throughout Nigeria in all the wards, he also subjected himself to a National Convention to ratify his election at the primary. And quote me, I had cause to tell him at our National Caucus during Edo election issue that, ‘Mr. President, if you can subject yourself to direct primary and national Convention, I do not see why anybody should be afraid of direct primary.’ I said this to him and we must be honest when we are talking to our leaders. That is why I believe that the President, having been a product of direct primary will sign the law for direct primary.”
The former governor stated that the 9th National Assembly has done very well for the country in supporting what they think is right for the executive and the country, adding that this is the payback time for the executive to the National Assembly that overwhelmingly passed the new electoral law to include direct primary.
He said: “In the case of direct primary, we are running a presidential system of government pattern after that of the USA. It is direct primary in USA that we copied. Why are we selective. If we don’t want direct primary, then let us go back to parliamentary system, like India where party caucuses select candidates. We cannot be selective on some aspects of the presidential system that we practice while jettisoning what is its democratic content. I am confident that the President, as a product of direct primary, will do the right thing. I want to commend all of you.
“We need to democratise. The idea of ‘we’ governors handpicking should stop. Let the people have a say. I commend the 9th National Assembly and appeal to the president, in the interest of the country and democracy, to sign the new electoral law.”
In his remarks, Senator Adeola, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said the members of the Senate were in London and decided to pay him a get-well quick visit as his wealth of experience is needed as Nigeria forges ahead in difficult times, adding that it is gratifying to see that he is fastly recovering from his surgery as evidenced in his personally coming to receive them at the door from the first floor and going back up with them to the sitting room upstairs.
Senator Shetimma, who spoke on behalf of other senators, stated that they came as Nigerians devoid of any political party or regional coloration to wish him well as an elder stateman at 82 who have contributed to the nation through journalism and service in government while some of them are still growing up.
He said the nation still needs his wealth of experience in forging ahead in these times.
“As senators of the Federal Republic, all of us are interested in the growth and progress of our nation. We did not come here for partisan consideration but to seek wisdom from an elder stateman that had contributed positively to the growth of the nation and still willing to do more even in advanced age,” he stated.