The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled out government funding for political parties as debate rages over possible hike in the cost of elections with the proposed introduction of compulsory adoption of direct primaries in Nigeria's electoral system.
The National Assembly included a provision for compulsory adoption of direct primaries in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill that was passed and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for signing into law.
Should the bill be signed into law, Nigerian political parties would have no option than to elect their candidates for elections through the direct primary model, which involves the participation of all registered party members.
Already, some political parties have expressed concern that direct primaries would hike the cost of conducting primary elections. The parties have suggested that they need financial support from the government to be able to meet up with the requirements of direct primaries.
The main national opposition party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and an alliance of political parties - the Conference of United Political Parties - have kicked against direct primaries while arguing that it would be very expensive.
Opposing the introduction of direct primaries in the amendment bill, the PDP, through its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, said, "The PDP holds that the provision (direct primaries) is aimed at increasing the costs of nomination procedures thereby surrendering the processes to moneybags against the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians."
The PDP noted that with the exception of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which it alleged intended to deploy looted funds in future elections, "hardly will there be any political party that will be able to raise the cost of conducting internal elections under a direct primary process."
*APGA makes case for government funding of political parties.
National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Victor Oye took the debate a notch higher by calling on the Federal Government to fund political parties to enable them conduct direct primaries.