What does it mean to have direct primaries in a political party?

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If you’ve been following Nigerian politics you’d notice that some of it’s political parties have been talking about having or conducting direct primaries for their candidates.

For example, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been singing it to every ear that cares to listen that it would conduct direct primaries in the 2019 general elections, which would eventually see President Buhari emerge as the party candidate.

But what does it mean to have direct primaries in a political party?

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While addressing this issue, APC National chairman Adams Oshiomhole said of the Osun State guber elections.

“We have decided that in order to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State, in-line with the provision of our party constitution which allows for either direct or indirect primary, we have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun state will be conducted on the basis of direct primary.

“What that means is that every card carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party. This for us, is the most democratic way to conduct election and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country wants and we are quite happy to oblige,”he said.

In clearer words, Oshiomhole was saying, instead of the usual way where voters elect delegates (indirect primaries) who choose the party’s candidates at a nominating convention,  there would be a preliminary election where all members of the APC will  decide their party’s candidates.

What this means is that, all members of the APC in each state will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party.

What does this mean for Nigeria and Nigeria politics? It means that party members will now feel recognised, valued and have a sense of belonging.

Are politicians still going to manipulate their loyalists into voting their preferred candidates? It is likely, but we can’t be entirely sure until the APC and other political parties carry this out.

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