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Buni, Malami move to block convention, governors rise against interim party chair

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There are strong indications that the Yobe State Governor and Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress, Mai Mala Buni, has intensified moves to prevent the party’s national convention scheduled for February from holding.

The PUNCH on Tuesday gathered that Buni’s moves had the backing of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN; the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu and his Jigawa State Governor counterpart, Muhammad Badaru.

It was learnt that as part of the plot, Buni-led caretaker committee was not interested in February convention so that it could remain in office till the emergence of the party’s presidential candidate.

A party leader, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “Buni’s panel is desperate to prevent the convention from holding because the Yobe governor has vice-presidential ambition. That is why the governor is foot-dragging on the national convention issue. In a matter of days, the caretaker committee will come up with an excuse that the convention cannot hold in February because of the lingering crises in some states. It is part of the delay tactics.”

It was however gathered the majority of the governors had got wind of the plan of Buni and would move against him at their meeting today (Wednesday).

It was also learnt that the decision of APC leader, Bola Tinubu, to contest the presidential election had unsettled the camp of Buni.

It was gathered that if the governors insisted on holding the planned February convention, Buni and his backers would push for the consensus method to elect national officers in order to maintain control of the party ahead of the primaries.

Three governors, Malami push consensus agenda to block Tinubu

This is just as The PUNCH learnt on Tuesday that the delay by the Buni committee in picking a date for the convention was also propelled by Buni’s vice-presidential ambition which now makes it less likely if Tinubu emerges as the APC presidential candidate.

Based on this development, the governors of the APC, who support Tinubu’s ambition are already strategising on how to ensure that the convention holds as quickly as possible and in a transparent manner.

“It is true that there is a crisis in several states. But I can tell you categorically that the delays in holding this convention are caused in part by Buni’s ambition to be vice-president,” said a member of the Buni committee, who is sympathetic to the governors.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on June 25, 2020 dissolved the National Working Committee of the APC led by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole due to a crisis that was caused by Oshiomhole’s feud with his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

Based on pressure from some governors including Kebbi State Governor, Bagudu; Malami; Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and his Jigawa State counterpart, Muhammad Badaru, the President at a meeting of the National Executive Council of the party, dissolved the NWC and appointed Buni as the leader of a 13-member committee.

The mandate of the Buni-led committee was to organise a national convention within six months but the committee continued to foot-drag, meeting Buhari regularly for extensions.

“Although we are 14 in the committee, Buni is the one that takes all decisions. He continued to shift the date for reasons best known to him,” he said.

When asked if the decision to delay the convention was not caused by the crisis in several states, the official said the crisis was indeed real but it was not enough to stall a national convention for so long.

He said, “The truth is that Buni got very comfortable and powerful in this position. A governor who is busy in his home state ought not to have time to be sitting down in Abuja.

“For the first six months, the committee achieved nothing apart from trying to convince governors of the Peoples Democratic Party to defect. So, that was how six months was spent when the core mandate of the committee was to organise a convention.

“This same committee organised the frivolous Anambra primary that has now been discredited by the court. They now want to supervise the Ekiti and Osun governorship primaries.”

The official further stated that the Buni committee had set up several sub-committees that had achieved nothing.

He said even the reconciliation committee led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu was just another avenue to waste more time.

“In March 2021, Buni set up the Congress Strategy and Contact Committee headed by Badaru which was supposed to submit a report on zoning of the Presidential election and other matters. They said at the time that the convention would hold in June 2021. That matter has since been forgotten.

“Buni set up a reconciliation committee on October 11 but the committee did not start its job until two months later. Obviously, everything is just delay tactics. The truth is that Buni has become so powerful that he wants to be able to determine the Presidential candidate of the APC who will pick him as a running mate,” he said.

When asked how Buni intended to achieve this, the official said the Yobe State governor and his backers that had succeeded in killing the idea of mandatory direct primaries and would ensure that both the chairman of the APC and the presidential candidate would emerge through consensus.

He said the consensus method would be used in edging out the likes of Tinubu who had a strong following in the party.

“We are going to put our foot down and demand that a date for the convention is announced this week. If not, we will take the gloves off. We will no longer allow a tiny cabal in the APC to take us for a ride. Even President Buhari, who is not seeking office, is growing frustrated with these games,” the source said.

When contacted on the telephone, the spokesman for the Yobe State Governor, Mamman Mohammed, said the issue was a party affair not a Yobe State issue.

“We are presently in Abuja and this issue is a party affair not an issue of Yobe State where the governor governs. We are speaking with your colleague here in Abuja,” he said.

But the National Secretary of the Caretaker committee, John Akpanudoedehe, did not respond to a text message on Tuesday.

Also, efforts to get Governor Bagudu’s media to react to the plot to foist consensus arrangement on the party and edged out Tinubu did not succeed.

Even several calls and messages sent to his media aide, Yahaya Sarki, were not returned nor replied, as at the time of going to press.

Malami doesn’t hold any position in APC, plays no role, says media aide

But when asked about Malami’s role in the APC crisis, the Spokesman for the AGF, Dr Umar Gwandu, said his principal was preoccupied with his duties as the AGF.

He said, “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is not talking politics but is proving his worth in the discharge of the responsibilities bestowed on him as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

“He is doing wonderfully well as the Attorney-General and not as a politician. Malami does not hold any office in the All Progressive Congress and plays no political role in the party.”

Someone is manipulating convention not to hold – PGF DG

Meanwhile, stakeholders of the APC have faulted the party’s current leadership for exuding a body language that disrespects the earlier proposed February national convention.

This is as they said that the party’s laxity in holding a convention is only a foretaste of the frictions that might hinder other critical milestones in the run-up to the 2023 elections.

Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman, said this on Tuesday in Abuja when delivering the keynote address at the APC Stakeholders Summit themed ‘Rebuilding the APC of our dreams’.

A distraught Lukman also faulted the idea of zoning, calling it a blast from the PDP years, which has done a great disservice to the quality of Nigeria’s leadership for decades.

He also said the lapse in communication between the APC and Nigerians had given the opposing Peoples Democratic Party a voice in recent times. He faulted the Buni-led committee for leaving a communication gap that the opposition had exploited.

Speaking of the national convention, Lukman said, “All of us as members and leaders are looking forward to a situation where we will wake up one morning, and we’ll be told that on so and so date and venue, the national convention of the party is going to take place. Unfortunately, we are wasting so much time.

“As human beings, when we struggle to get water to drink, what it simply means is that we will not have the capacity to find food. So, if we are struggling for a critical organ of the party such as the National Convention to hold, then how are we going to manage contests that will produce candidates?

“The danger signal is that we may end up having a convention that will not guarantee a healthy contest within the party. We need to get out of that. We think that February 5 will be the convention. Yet somebody just sat down somewhere and is manipulating it not to hold. And we are all taking it? We can’t have a political party that disrespects decisions.”

The DG also attributed the poor quality of leadership produced in the country to zoning, a system he faulted.

Lukman also said the poor communication among party members and the populace is the leading cause of the internal fever the APC is experiencing.

He took shots at the current National Secretary of the CECPC, John Akpanudoedehe, saying that the APC was suffering because it lacks a competent national secretary.

Lukman added, “The national secretary is a critical office. From our experience with the caretaker committee, part of our disasters is not having a competent secretary. I am not personalising it, but that is the reality. We need a competent secretary else the bureaucracy will be weak—no organisation functions without an efficient bureaucracy.

“We are now struggling to hold a convention. At the last count, there were nine aspirants for the chairmanship. By yesterday morning, I saw another person, making it 10. There are more coming. I recall that in 2014, we didn’t have that situation.

“Part of the reason was because meetings were taking place. So, leaders were able to consult and engage with one other and moderate the actions of everybody in the party. Now, because leaders have become overconfident, meetings are hardly taking place. It is now difficult to moderate the leaders’ excesses and even the caretaker committee. We must appeal to our leaders to return to that mode of having meetings. And they don’t need to expect agreement every time. This is what we need as a party.”

Efforts to make Akpanudoedehe respond to Lukman criticism did not succeed as he did not reply an SMS sent to him.

Tinubu promotes excellence, capable of becoming Nigeria’s President – Abe

Meanwhile, a former representative of the Rivers South-East Senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe has described Tinubu as a promoter of excellence, saying he is capable and qualified to become Nigeria’s President in 2023.

Abe said this during a breakfast meeting with journalist in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Tuesday.

Abe added,” The most important job of a leader is to pick people. If you look at the quality of people that Asiwaju picked and the way he promotes quality people in everything, they stand out.

“The one thing that has kept Africa where it is , is that leaders prefer loyalty above capacity and competence. Asiwaju is one of few leaders in Africa who picks capacity and competence above loyalty and promotes excellence in every way.”

PUNCH.

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Electoral Bill: NASS Bows To Buhari, Approves Direct, Indirect Primaries For Parties

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The Senate on Wednesday included the consensus mode of primary in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill as suggested by the President Muhammadu Buhari.

Both chambers of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives, however, deleted compulsory direct primaries from the bill.

While the House gave options of parties adopting direct or indirect primaries, the Senate included direct and indirect primaries as well as the consensus mode as suggested by the President during his interview with Channels Television a few weeks ago.

During the interview, Buhari said the lawmakers should include consensus, besides direct and indirect primaries.

He said, “All I said (is that) there should be options,” he said. “We must not insist that it has to be direct; it should be consensus and indirect.”

Buhari had last year vetoed the electoral bill and sent it back to the National Assembly over the restriction of political parties to direct primaries.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had suspended action on the bill till resumption on Tuesday, after the Christmas and New Year break.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives amended Clause Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 which is Clause 84 of the electoral bill, by inserting the indirect primary option.

The Senate, however, adopted Clause 84(2) as recommended by the Committee of the Whole and approved direct primary, indirect primary or consensus as procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for elections.

The disagreement between both houses is expected to delay the passage of the bill.

The Senate also approved the recommended Clause 84(3) which prescribes that, “A political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and shall adopt the procedure outlined below: (a) In the case of Presidential Primaries, all registered members of the party are to vote for aspirants of their choice at a designated centre at each ward of the federation.

It provides further that, “similar procedure as in (a) above, shall be adopted for governorship senatorial, federal and state constituencies.

The Majority Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC/Kebbi-North), had moved a motion for the recommital of the bill to the Committee of the Whole.

Abdullahi noted that the motion was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr. President and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 ( as amended).”

The Senate’s move, it was learnt, was based on the request by the President

However, it was not a smooth ride for the bill at the House. There was tension in the House as members were divided on whether to amend the legislation or override the President’s vote.

At the opening of plenary on Wednesday, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, beckoned on some leaders of the House, who approached his seat.

Shortly after, other leaders and ranking members of the House joined the meeting.

Those who met with Gbajabiamila included the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Faleke; Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, among others.

Other lawmakers watched as they engaged themselves in arguments for over 15 minutes.

Our correspondent observed that Elumelu was particularly in disagreement with what was being said by others at the meeting.

Gbajabiamila consequently called for an executive (closed-door) session, which lasted about 30 minutes.

As the chamber was opened, there was noise in the chamber, which showed that there was a disagreement among the lawmakers.

Elumelu and the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, led other opposition members to a corner of the chamber where they met for about five minutes, agreed on what to do and dispersed to their respective seats.

As the Speaker called the chamber to order, he asked that all items on the day’s order paper be stepped down except the recommital of the electoral bill – Item 6, being first motion of the day; and Item 9, being the first report for consideration.

Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata, moved the motion for the recommital to the Committee of the Whole.

Elumelu seconded the motion.

Ado-Doguwa moved the motion that the House dissolve into Committee of the Whole to consider the bill, while Leke Abejide seconded the motion.

At the Committee of the Whole, consideration of the bill did not start until 18 minutes, during which the lawmakers conferred with themselves in groups and copies of the legislation were distributed to them.

The Speaker recalled how Buhari withheld assent to the bill, read out Paragraph 5 of the President’s letter to the National Assembly. Gbajabiamila also cited Order 12 Rule 20 of the Standing Orders of the House which prescribed how the lawmakers should go about rejected bills.

Considering the report by the Committee of the Whole, Gbajabiamila put the amended Clause 84(2) to voice vote and it was unanimously adopted.

The clause now reads, ‘The procedure for nomination of candidates by political parties for various elective positions shall be by direct primaries or indirect primaries.’

As the House was to revert to plenary, an opposition member, Dagomie Abiante (PDP/Rivers) raised a point of order to say that “there are other errors,” which Gbajabiamila said were “being looked into.”

The Speaker, however, ruled him out of order, stating that the rules of the House, which he had read out, were specific about the process and the lawmakers were bound by the limitations. “We are confined to the observations made by Mr President. We have a near-perfect document; it may not be perfect but we have a near-perfect document,” he stated.

After Gbajabiamila overruled Abiante, several lawmakers approached the Speaker where they were seen pointing out things in the bill to him.

We amended only Clause 84(2), states Gbajabiamila

After the meeting that lasted about 10 minutes, the House adopted the report from the Committee of the Whole.

The Speaker explained what had been done to the bill, saying, “For emphasis’ sake, I need to state categorically that what was considered and adopted by the House was only a clause and that was Clause 84(2). “

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who addressed journalists after the session, stated that Buhari was specific about the amendments he sought from the National Assembly, which was having the direct and indirect options.

Consensus will subvert popular will, antithetical to democratic principles – CSOs
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society organisations working towards the perfection of the electoral process in Nigeria on Wednesday rejected the introduction of consensus by the Senate as a mode of nomination of candidates in the Electoral. Act Bill 2021.

The activists, however, commended the swift action taken by the National Assembly upon resumption to review its position on direct primaries as the sole mode for nomination of candidates in the Electoral Bill 2021.

While expressing fears that the new consensus mode “is antithetical to democratic principles and will result in the subversion of popular will”, the CSOs called for “the immediate withdrawal of this new introduction which is alien to the original Electoral Bill 2021 to speed up the work of the harmonization committee and conclusion of the amendment process on or before the 21 January 2022 deadline.”

The membership of the CSOs comprised Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre, Centre for Citizens with Disability, The Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society and Nigerian Women Trust Fund.

Others were Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations and Inclusive Friends Association.

The groups in a joint statement signed on their behalf by the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, rejected the action taken by the Senate.

The statement read in part, “We reject the decision of the Senate to introduce a completely new mode of ‘consensus’ as a procedure for candidates’ nomination. The consensus mode is antithetical to democratic principles and will result in the subversion of popular will. Furthermore, it violates the rights of aspirants to equal participation in party primaries and limits the choice of voters to candidates who did not emerge from democratic primary elections.

“Judging from experience, consensus has occasioned a litany of litigation in Nigeria’s electoral process. We call on the Senate to, in line with the popular will of Nigerians, adopt the position of the House of Representatives which now recognizes direct and indirect primaries as procedure for nomination of candidates.”

The groups said the divergent positions of both chambers could delay the speedy conclusion of the process.

“We therefore call for the immediate withdrawal of this new introduction which is alien to the original Electoral Bill 2021 to speed up the work of the harmonization committee and conclusion of the amendment process on or before the 21 January 2022 deadline,” the CSOs said.

 PUNCH.

 

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Osun 2022: Family At War As Governorship Ambition Tears Senator Ademola and Dele Adeleke Apart

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The ambition to run for the Osun governorship election has torn Osun’s Adeleke family apart.

The members of the family — Senator Ademola Adeleke and Dele Adeleke — have been screened and cleared as aspirants for the Osun governorship election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), DAILY POST reports.

The two family members were part of six governorship aspirants for the July 16 governorship election in Osun State cleared by Mohammed Adoke, the chairman of the party’s screening committee.

However, there has been continuous hot disagreement within the family over the ambition of Dele, who served as Ademola’s agent at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Osun during the 2018 poll.

Dele’s ambition was a rumour until he obtained expression and nomination form amounting to N21 million in December to officially join the Osun governorship race.

There has been open confrontations and verbal war between a member of the family, David Adeleke (Davido) and his cousin, Dele earlier this week.

Music superstar, Davido took to his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday to warn the people of Osun to be wary of Dele, saying, “Intellectual that has not succeeded in building one single thing in his life on his own. This life ehn!! Osun beware of FAKES! Dele.”

His uncle — Ademola responded saying: “Don’t worry nephew God got us #IMOLEDE #OSUN2022.”

Again on Wednesday, Davido accused his cousin of sponsoring an article about him and mentioned the death of his mother which the singer sees as offensive and further threatened to expose his co-family member, Dele, to the Osun people.

In his response, Dele said Osun deserves the best. He divulged that he has been receiving death threats from Davido’s fans since the open confrontation on Tuesday.

In his tweets on Wednesday, Dele said, “You are the king of social media & you know people take it upon themselves to write whatever they believe will give them clout. So many of your fans came to my SM handles to threaten me and some even asked me to go and die. Did you send them to threaten my life?.

“I seriously doubt it and I do not believe you will do such a thing. So, irrespective of politics, please note that I am not that kind of person; I have maintained decorum in the face of provocation and I will continue to do so.

“I respect your decision and choice to support Uncle Demola and that is the beauty of democracy. It is possible we can all make our individual choices without rancour and bitterness. We can all follow different paths and still live as one big, happy family.”

The crisis has continued to generate reactions on social media.

Meanwhile, the PDP has scheduled the governorship primary election for March 7.

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2023: We’ll Withhold Timetable Till Electoral Bill Is Signed Into Law – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has said it will not release the 2023 general election timetable until the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the first quarterly meeting with political parties for 2022 in Abuja.

He said; “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved. We look forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections.

“As soon as it is signed into law, the Commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election based on the new law”.

Noting that 2022 is going to be a very busy year for the Commission and the political parties, Yakubu reminded them that the 2023 General Election was just 396 days away.

He said all the critical preparations must be concluded this year, explaining that the Continuous Voter Registration CVR which commenced in June last year has entered the third quarter.

“As of Monday 17th January 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically or applied for transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or updated their voter information records as required by law.

“At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive clean up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election and will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will be announced very soon”, Yakubu stated.

According to him, the Commission has also decided that the suspended Ekiti East I State Constituency bye-election will be combined with the State Governorship election holding on 18th June 2022.

He said the date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State will be announced after a thorough review of the security situation in the area, while the Commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency.

“Turning to the major end-of-tenure and off-cycle elections, party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January 2022. For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March 2022.

“In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have served the mandatory notices for the primaries. Let me seize this opportunity to draw the attention of parties to the necessity for transparent and rancour-free primaries. Parties should also respect their chosen dates for the primaries based on the Commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities.

“Already, many parties have rescheduled their primaries several times. While the Commission has earmarked a period of three weeks and 4 days (i.e. 25 days) for the conduct of the Ekiti State Governorship primaries, virtually all political parties have decided to hold their primaries in the last 4 days i.e. 26th – 29th January 2022. In fact, seven political parties have chosen the last day for their primaries.

“Similarly, no party has so far submitted its list of aspirants, the composition of its electoral panel, or the register of members or list of delegates depending on the chosen mode for electing its candidates.

“As of yesterday, only one party has indicated the venue for its primaries. I urge you all to do so immediately to enable us to work out the detailed plans for monitoring the primaries. All primaries for electing candidates must take place in the constituency where election will hold as required by law. In the cases of Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, any primaries conducted outside the two States will not be monitored by the Commission and their outcomes will not be accepted. This also applies to primaries for bye-elections conducted outside the constituencies”, he added.

On the Federal Capital Territory FCT Area Council election, Yakubu gave insights into the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the territory, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 or 21% of the total, do not have voters.

“This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The detailed distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting”, he stated.

Responding on behalf of the political parties, Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Committee IPAC, Engr. Yabagi Sani said the parties are anticipating more superlative performance by INEC in the remaining off-season elections, beginning with the Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory and later on, the gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti states.

He said the most serious and potent impediment to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections, is the lingering debacle between the Executive and the Legislature on the fate of the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill.

“While time is dangerously running out for the resolution of the disputes between the two arms, the IPAC is of the position that the controversy may have been contrived in the first instance, purely and clearly in the pursuits of narrow and self-centered political ambitions of some of the gladiators.

“We are therefore, using this occasion to once again make our strident call for the immediate resolution of the unnecessary impasse over the Electoral Amendment Bill in the superior and overriding national interest. The IPAC has persistently suggested at various forums that, the first rational step in the circumstance, is for the two apex legislative houses to immediately expunge from the Bill, the provisions that make it mandatory for political parties to use Direct Primary elections in the selection of their flag bearers in general elections.

“Going forward, we have also called on the President to thereafter, assent to the Bill without delay. Our concern in the IPAC, is that failure to reach a compromise in the short run may invariably translate into the death of the other very crucial provisions, such as the provisions on the Electronic Transmission of election results”, he stated.

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