By Simbo Olorunfemi
It might yet turn out that, by some accident or slip on the part of members of the National Assembly, Nigeria might have stumbled upon a system that might yet become useful in retooling the mechanics of the Presidential system as we currently practise it.
Of course, the idea that the template that had been forced upon the political parties for the election of Candidates in this election will outlive this season is unlikely, as letting the Buhari ‘veto’ stay would amount to class suicide, with power of election/selection slipping out of the hands of those who had assumed the status of ‘statutory’ or ‘super’ delegates. The Legislators are unlikely to ever let that happen.
But I wouldn’t let that stop my interrogation of what is accidental, but I see as potentially beneficial intervention in the electoral system.
Whereas the idea of electing candidates through a collegiate system, made up of delegates is not new, what has played out this time around is one in which all the delegates who participated in the election of candidates were elected. Whereas these ones were supposedly ‘ad-hoc’, who were to be add-ons to the supermen and women who are automatic delegates by virtue of the offices they hold/held.
So, as the malfunction in the legislative process led to the omission of super delegates who had been the dominant players in the space, the task of producing candidates was solely left to the adhoc delegates, who suddenly became beautiful brides desperately sought by aspirants.
Whereas there has been a lot of talk about what has become a highly monetised delegates procurement process, my observation does, in fact, suggest that it is the statutory or super delegates who have constituted themselves into ‘cabals’ and pressure groups, taking advantage of their positions to put pressure on aspirants, leading to the monetisation of the process.
First, we have former members of the National Assembly, having formed themselves into groups, waiting for the period of elections to milk aspirants. Then, we have a situation in which the list of delegates tilts heavily in favour of these groups, making the system more susceptible to manipulation.
So, what is wrong with tweaking with this accidental system that we now have and explore the possibility of institutionalising it as a model for electing Candidates?
As we have it now, members of the party go through a process of election which see them emerging as ward, local government and State delegates, to be able to vote for candidates in the different elections.
Whereas the contest within the parties to qualify as a ‘Delegate’ was not one that had the big players contending, having already qualified to participate in the process as statutory delegates, I will argue for the idea of statutory delegates to be scrapped entirely.
I will argue for a system in which all delegates are elected by members of the party. This primary election had 5 delegates per ward (APC) and 3 delegates per ward (PDP) for the State House of Assembly Elections.
I will make a case for the primary election for the office of the President to be one delegate per ward, which would be the total number of delegates eligible to vote to 8, 813, just about what we had with statutory delegates participating in the process. But under this proposed arrangement, anyone who wants to be a delegate, either already elected into office or a political appointee will return to his ward to stand for election, and if qualified will serve as delegate at the Presidential primaries. Local government and states delegates will also emerge through the same process.
This system strengthens the party and returns power to the base, having within it some elements of the parliamentary system which I prefer and advocate a return to.
Simbo can be reached via; firstname.lastname@example.org