As debates over the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill rage, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has said the governors are not threatened by direct primaries.
He said the National Assembly members agitating for direct primaries have no structures in their respective wards, claiming the governors are the ones keeping keeping party alive.
The Senators had on Wednesday stepped down its move to override the President after his refusal to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which provides for direct primaries and electronic transmission of election results.
While congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari for declining assent to the Bill, Umahi in an interview on Channels TV, Umahi said those advocating direct primaries were not looking at the concerns raised by the President for rejecting the provision for direct primaries in the Bill.
According to him, contrary to insinuations from some quarters, the governors are closer to the people than any other elected official.
He also disagreed with the former Nasarrawa state governor, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, over his comment that the governors have hijacked the parties.
Umahi who is the Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum said, “I am surprised to say that a former Governor is saying that the governors are hijacking the party. What looks as if the Governors are hijacking the party is that the governors are the people at home with members of the party and when people even talk about direct primary is the only way of giving the party back to the people, I just laugh.
“There’s no governor that doesn’t have at least 100 government officials in each of the wards. That’s number one. Number two, there is governor that is not the one who, through contributions from friends, is paying the salaries of the party officials.
“The governors are the people that are keeping the party alive in the various wards. These are the commitments of government that seem as if they are hijacking the party. The National Assembly members don’t really have governance structures in the various wards. So we have to come to understand that.
“And let me tell you there is no governor that would be threatened by the issue of direct primaries. For me it is not an issue. What is an issue is the confusion that this would create and it is important that we discuss the confusion so that when they begin to emerge, let it be that they were foretold.”
The governor insisted that the direct primaries could create confusion because of the desperation of individuals contesting for the party’s tickets.
“Let talk about the real issue. People should provide solutions to the issue that Mr. President has enunciated concerning direct primaries. This is very important.”
“And they talk about security but people said that you conduct elections in the various polling units. But do we also understand that in party primary, there is a lot of desperation because it is an individual thing. An individual is the one doing everything possible to get the ticket. This is a country where politicians do everything possible to get the tickets. The moment they have it they believe that everybody has to queue by his side to make him to go through the elections.
What we are insisting and emphasising is look at these issues that Mr. President has said, discuss them, if you feel they are non issues, then there is no problem about that. The truth is that I have been a party chairman for four years, I have been a Deputy Governor for four years, I’m a Governor running to seven years. I can understand and discuss party politics,” Umahi stated.