The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream and Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-East, Obong Bassey Albert Akpan (OBA), has expressed optimism that the recently signed electoral act (amended) will deepen internal democracy among political parties in the country.
Sen. Akpan, while fielding questions from journalists on the weekend, added that the act will also guarantee increased participation in future elections.
The lawmaker described President Muhammadu Buhari as a true democrat for yielding to the yearnings of Nigerians by assenting to the amended electoral act, despite pressure against it from some quarters.
“The President is a true democrat. We have used the old electoral act for two elections. The recent review was necessary because of the need to address critical issues from the past elections. Some of these issues were not provided for by the law. Hence the President has signed the new act that will go a long way in enhancing the transparency of the election process.
“Political parties now have a clear mandate of choosing between direct, indirect and consensus approach in the nomination of candidates who will represent them at the polls”, Senator Akpan reiterated.
Commenting on consensus candidacy as enshrined in the new law, Senator Akpan said the law would make the process more participatory and transparent. He said all candidates seeking an elective office must append their signatures to adopt any consensus position before ratification by delegates.
He noted that where a political party cannot secure written consent of all cleared aspirants for the emergence of a consensus candidate, the law mandates the party to revert to the choice of direct or indirect primaries for the nomination of a candidate for the desired office.
Reflecting on voter apathy, which he said has marred previous elections in the country, the lawmaker posited that a free and credible nomination process is critical towards mitigating the effect of voter apathy in future elections.
“Voter apathy usually emanates from the process that produces candidates in different political parties. The new electoral act will enhance transparency in our electoral processes. The burden is now on political parties to do their best in advancing internal democracy. I believe that the coming elections will witness increased voter turnout because of the reforms we will see because of the new law,” he added.