“For grassroots democracy, a direct primary election is preferred to ensure quality selection by the party members within a constituency” – Steve Dike
Aare Taju Balogun
My take on the issue is that both are accepted in every democratic practice. But the indirect system, also known as the collegiate system, whereby only designated delegates participate in the process, is less rancorous–– but more expensive and too distant from the real grassroots. But to a greater extent, it is a little bit less prone to rigging and unbridled manipulations. So, it can be called an elitist kind of process.
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Direct primaries, on the other hand, is very direct to the ordinary people or party members who are desirous of partaking in the electoral process. It could be expensive if one is not popular with the grassroots. But if one is popular, he will become a noticed voice that can be respected and not be ignored and he can prove his mettle by winning. This process, though more democratic, is opened to manipulation and rigging because of the wide nature of area to be covered, and most times, it attracts violence more than the indirect system. If properly operated by the coordinating organ it gives voice to the voiceless while encouraging hard work and service to the people and in turn allow the ordinary man to defeat money bags.
Eze Sir Steve Dike
Political parties should look at their constitution before arriving at direct or indirect primaries. However, for grassroots democracy, a direct primary election is preferred to ensure a quality selection by the party members within a constituency. It will reduce vote buying and bad candidature. So parties should add it to their constitution by early next year to be used for 2023 elections. You cannot shift the goal post now.
When we talk about democracy, it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. And you remember that in ancient days, members of the community gathered in an assembly, discussed and agreed on issues in the hearing of everyone. As population grew, it was no longer convenient for everyone to sit together in an assembly. Then, it became a representative government in which people were elected to represent their people. But if you look at what is happening, are they actually representing their people as expected? There are cancerous factors like ethnic affiliation, financial greed, religious beliefs and other factors. Politicians can do anything in the name of the above factors.
However, direct election is more representative but more expensive, though it cuts across the opinion of everyone. If you are talking about indirect, there is no way it cannot be circumvented by politicians on religious and ethnic grounds. In this wise, direct election has the advantage. Moreover, looking at both sides of the divide, there is no way any of the options will not be hijacked by political moneybags.
Whether direct or indirect, it depends on the rules a political party wants to follow. If it is an agreed norm within a political party that they should operate direct primaries, let it be. And, if a political party decides to go for indirect primaries, then let them go ahead because what is peculiar to one particular political party may not be to the other. So, it is a question of which will produce the best candidate. Ordinarily, in any election, it is good that a better candidate should emerge so that a nascent democracy can be made stronger. In some cases, the best candidate may not emerge in direct primaries. So it all depends on the way it was conducted. Unfortunately, this time around, politics has been monetized, so it is neither here nor there. In a nutshell, any option that a political party decides to go for, I think there is nothing to do about it. It is allowed because we are in a democratic setting.
Direct democracy is better than indirect democracy because it makes the people at the grassroots to participate in the process of electing their leaders and representatives. Though the process is cumbersome and problematic to manage in a country with large population but it has advantage over indirect primary, which could be hijacked by the political elites. So, direct primary will produce people-oriented candidates, devoid of Godfatherism.
I am in support of direct primaries because it will give room for merit. If you look at the present political office holders of today, they do not care about the interest of the masses simply because they got their various positions on a platter of gold. They were handpicked by the so-called godfathers to the detriment of those who can do better. Now if they go with direct primaries, those elected will be made to be more accountable to the people, but with indirect primaries, they will be loyal to their godfathers. We are suffering today because of godfathers and favouritism. Also, indirect primaries can be easily manipulated, but direct primaries will show the strength of every aspirant and how much the electorate want them to serve.
Both options are very good. It depends on the intention. I think direct primaries are very good because they will make people to know how related or close an aspirant is to the people. In direct primaries, people will be able to know their structure. But in delegate election, people will come from different wards and can be bought over. Though lots of things happen in direct primaries, yet, it is the best option for a nascent democracy, especially the type we practise now. In indirect primaries, people do not vote their minds. There are manipulations and people are bought over, in direct primaries, people will queue up and vote for any aspirant of their choice.
Direct primaries is more democratic because it will give a lot of people a chance to prove themselves. It also allows the general public to vote for whomever they know would serve them well. In indirect primaries, there is the tendency of buying the conscience of the delegates with money. In Nigeria, it has been a system of who pays more money to the delegates that ends up winning the primaries and that is not healthy for a democratic system of government.