By Emmanuel Adeleke
The House of Representatives has summoned the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to clear the air on the cost implication of conducting direct primaries by political parties in the country.
This follows a motion of urgent public importance moved during Thursday’s plenary by the lawmaker representing Yagba East/Yagba West/Mopa-Moro Federal Constituency of Kogi State, Leke Abejide.
Yakubu will appear before the committees on appropriation and electoral matters.
In the motion which was overwhelmingly supported by the lawmakers, Abejide called the attention of the House to the speculation making the rounds that it would cost over N500 billion for political parties to conduct direct primaries ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The cost implication is said to likely decide the fate of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 pending before President Muhammadu Buhari.
The bill captured direct primaries as the mode of choosing the candidates of political parties for elections.
Abejide pointed out that INEC is in the best position to clear the air on the cost implication of direct primaries since it is the umpire supervising both the primaries of political parties and the main elections.
He said: “We all know the importance of direct primaries.
“Some people say it will cost N500 billion. This is mere speculation because the cost of direct primaries may be within the budget of INEC.”
The lawmaker added that the best time to invite Yakubu would be now that the commission’s 2022 budget was still pending before the National Assembly.
He explained that this would help the legislature to determine and decide on the appropriate budget for the commission.
Responding, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Demi Gbajabiamila, said: “Committees on INEC and appropriation, please invite the INEC chairman so that he can give us the possible cost implications of direct primaries.”