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Electoral Bill: Throwing baby out with bath water



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By Ehichioya Ezomon

Rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, is surprised that “some Nigerians were surprised” that President Muhammadu Buhari refused to assent the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 on December 21, 2021.
Actually, Ozekhome, appearing on an African Independent Television (AIT) political programme the previous day, to clarify the deadline for Buhari to sign the Bill, vowed that the president would not append his signature to the piece of legislation.
Comparing himself to ‘Nostradamus’ for “correctly predicting Buhari 110 per cent of the time in the past six and half years” of his presidency, Ozekhome passionately genuflected to the president, to prove him wrong, for once, and assent the Bill.
But alas, Buhari didn’t disappoint Ozekhome! Nor most Nigerians, who often read the president’s response to national issues through his body language, and public views expressed by his kitchen cabinet or the “cabals” in and out of government.
So, instead of returning to AIT to congratulate Buhari “for a job well done,” Ozekhome was at the station the next day, December 21, to declare to Nigerians, “I told you so!” The rest is history!
Perhaps, the disappointment for Nigerians is that Buhari discarded other fine points in the Bill, such as electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electiral Commission (INEC), thus literally “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
Some of the reasons Buhari gave for withholding assent to the Bill are: The prevailing (security) situation in the country, High cost of conducting direct primary elections, The security challenge of monitoring the elections, Direct primaries violate democratic rights of citizens, Direct primaries marginalise smaller political parties.
These reasons are, at best, tenuous, simplistic and an afterthought derived by the president from the weeks-long forum-shopping for excuses to pin his refusal to sign the Bill.
For example, didn’t Nigeria, at the height of deadly operations of Boko Haram in the North-east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, conduct the 2015 elections without reports of security threats, as Buhari envisages for the processes of the 2023 elections?
In these times of unprecedented banditry and kidnappings in the country, INEC and state government have conducted governorship and legislative, and local government elections, respectively.
Isn’t Buhari’s refusal to sign the Bill, on account of “the situation in the country,” an admission of failure of his administration to secure Nigeria despite government’s assurances that the conditions have improved from their pre-2015 stress levels?
In other words, the president is forewarning, 14 months ahead, about possible security threats that could impact the processes, and the actual conduct of the 2023 general election.
Which’s higher, the cost of conducting a delegate system of staggered indirect primaries from the ward to local government and state congresses on different dates, culminating in an elective national convention; or a one-off direct primary election at the ward level, and with or without a ceremonial or symbolic affirmative national convention, if a political party so decides?
The INEC has debunked the floated N500 billion it reportedly needed to conduct political parties’ direct primaries, which it’s no part to play other than monitoring, with the commission budgeting N305 billion only for the entire processes of the 2023 polls.
The security challenge of monitoring direct primaries isn’t near, match or surpass that for elections conducted by INEC or state governments, as the number of participants are restricted to card-carrying members of political parties voting at the ward level.
Direct primary election doesn’t violate rights of the citizens. Rather, it’s a participatory system that allows ordinary members a say in the selection of candidates for elective positions. By contrast, indirect primaries ensure exclusion of a majority of party members.
Direct primaries don’t marginalize smaller political parties that have limited membership, as attested in scanty votes (in hundreds) they score even at national elections, which’s prompted INEC to delist, and reduce the number of political parties from 92 to 18.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) account for 108 of the 109 senatorial seats in the National Assembly (NASS), and 35 of the 36 states in the country.
Anyway, direct primary poll was allegedly inserted late in the Electoral Bill by those opposed to electronic transmission of election results, to scuttle approval of the Bill by President Buhari.
Indeed, a national daily has quoted Buhari as accusing governors of the APC and their NASS members of “deceiving Nigerians that they were engaged in a battle of supremacy over the issue of direct primaries, whereas they had secretly agreed to scuttle the possibility of transmitting election results electronically in 2023.”
The Senate initially subjected INEC’s transmission of poll results to the dictate of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and approval by the NASS, only for the Upper Chamber to succumb to public outcry and subsequently went with the position of the House of Representatives that favoured the provision.
Yet, the booby-trap was alive, and was resurrected during Buhari’s expansive consultations with stakeholders for their inputs, to inform his decision to assent the Bill.
Nigerians may not know the inputs of the stakeholders, but Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), allegedly swayed the president’s mind, with critics describing Buhari as swallowing “line, hook and sinker” Malami’s suggestions in two separate letters to the president.
It’s immaterial which suggestions Buhari considered to arrive at his decision to return the Bill to the NASS. But the president should remember the following scenarios in his tortuous political journey, so as leave behind a legacy of good-faith electoral reforms:
Buhari, as a serial candidate for president, was allegedly rigged out thrice, consecutively, in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but got reprieve in 2015 through a relatively free, fair and credible poll.
Buhari secured the ticket for his second term in office in 2019 via direct primaries in which he reportedly scored over 15 million votes of registered members of the APC across the country.
Buhari has made a mantra of free, fair and credible polls, backed by his famous quote of “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.” Certainly, in the spat over the Electoral Bill, the president must belong to one group – the politicians or the people!
Buhari on the campaign trail, even for himself, would ask the voters to cast ballots for whomever they liked. Do the voters even have the chance to freely participate in indirect primaries?
Buhari has rejected the same Electoral Amendment Bill five times based on varying reasons, some as minute as clerical errors. What a record by a president that wants posterity to be kind to him!

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Tinubu’s Cabinet Of Controversy




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By Zainab Suleiman Okino

In all ramifications, it appears the euphoria and excitement that greeted President Bola Tinubu’s assumption of office are gradually ebbing away. Quite expectedly, having started with the tough decisions of fuel subsidy removal and floating of the forex, the President now needs to do more and urgently too.

Both policies have since worsened the woes of the Naira and Nigerians. From accusation of being surrounded by “Lagos boys”, (his cabinet as Lagos State Governor between 1999 to 2003), to policy somersaults to somehow nepotistic appointments (and vengeful dismissal of some CEOs), questions are being asked about Tinubu’s pro-people and pan-Nigerian credentials.

He started with politically correct appointments. The geographical spread of his service chiefs was received positively. His swift policy statements, though criticized, were timely, compared with the sordid silence of his predecessor.

The misnomer became apparent during ministerial nominations flip-flopping into high-wire politics that led to a ministerial nominee in person of former Governor Nasir El-Rufai being dropped at the last minute over a so-called security report after screening. We also witnessed how a nominee from Kano State, Maryam Shetty was refused screening by the senators after she was already seated at the National Assembly lobby, which showed clearly a scene from the playbook of Ganduje’s dirty politics under Tinubu’s government.

Two former governors were appointed to man the Ministry of Defence; former Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, was downgraded to serve as a junior minister under his colleague, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, former governor of Jigawa state. Looks so incongruous. Some MDAs were “reorganized”, and we expected a more compact arrangement. But what did we get? Some ministries were boosted and some downgraded. To which end, except to favour some ministers and appoint others to less juicy or relegated ministries, just to satisfy constitutional provision. Tokenism? Maybe.

The result was a boosted aviation sector renamed Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development under the supervision of an equally controversial figure, Festus Keyamo, while the Ministry of Transportation was debased and can safely be called ministry of railway, after the removal of everything maritime like NIMASA, NPA, Shippers’ Council etc now under the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

Indeed, inconsistency in pronouncements came too early in this administration. Tinubu made history when he reshuffled a cabinet that was yet to be inaugurated. Engineer Abubakar Momoh was redeployed from Ministry of Youth to Ministry of Niger Delta that the president hitherto ignored.

Imagine the embarrassment that followed the declaration by the UAE government, that they are yet to resolve and reverse their visa ban on Nigerians, after the President’s spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale went to town to announce same. Propaganda should have limits. Why the hurry? To impress who? The disinformation has since taken the shine off the president’s diplomatic engagement with his UAE counterpart. So, after the UAE denunciation, where exactly are we now?

Tinubu does not seem bothered about over-bloated personnel costs or reducing the cost of governance. For the first time, Nigeria now has almost 50 ministers under its low per capital income of 5,200 PPP dollars in 2021 compared to USA’s 25 ministers and per capita income of 70,480 PPP dollars as at 2021.

Consequently, Nigerians have resigned to fate that they may never have pro-people government in their lifetime, since most of the policy initiatives of the new government favour only the rich, the haves, high-end businesses and high class of people and interests. It is obvious that the president must have made many commitments to friends and associates, who in his own estimation must be fixed, regardless of an ailing economy like ours.

Still smarting from all these came the issue of lopsided appointments, which we thought we had seen the last of after Buhari. The protests over Tinubu’s skewed appointments started from “home”, when a group from the Southwest accused him of appointing only people from Lagos contrary to the notion that Yorubas had an edge in his government.

Last weekend, evidence of such slanted appointments went viral. Critics reeled out at least 20 consequential appointments from the Southwest including MDAs like Justice, Finance, Customs, Police, FIRS, Immigration, NIMC, CBN, Power, Digital Economy, COAS, Maritime, Interior and Communications in the president’s kitchen cabinet. Muslim groups like MURIC have also cried out complaining that Christians hold key economic positions. The cry of marginalization has always been part of governance and politics in our clime, and Tinubu is not in a hurry to end it.

In addition to his hard-to-swallow economic direction, Tinubu’s choice of appointees is somehow causing concerns among the elite too. Without a semblance of inclusion and symbolism, the people feel let down by a president they thought was going to be pan-Nigerian, gradually becoming provincial, in deeds, even though appointments only enrich the beneficiaries while the conditions of ordinary people remain unchanged.

I believe competence and capacity should be uppermost in considering people for appointments, but I also know that all regions or ethnic groups harbour such competent people among them. Going forward, the president should be more circumspect, and look elsewhere instead of his “household” in a delicate balancing act that Nigeria needs, and which will surely give him (Tinubu) more support and goodwill. No matter how inconsequential he thinks these issues are, they have already got tongues wagging. As a minority myself, I can’t help but notice this potentially damaging and divisive subject in our polity.

Already an internal revolt is brewing in APC over Tinubu’s style of leadership and appointments. In what a group called “yorubanization of the current APC government”, the “APC members in Coalition for a United Nigeria (CUN)”, said “86% of the critical appointments made so far have been people from your (Tinubu) geopolitical zone, the Southwest.

Moreso, to our greater bewilderment is the fact that 90% of these people are your “Lagos boys”, imploring the president to “drastically balance this prejudice by giving attention to other regions outside the Southwest”. If members of the party are disappointed in their government, what do you expect from the rest of the country?

Okino, is the chairperson of Blueprint Editorial Board, a fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE), her syndicated column appears on News Point Nigeria newspaper on Thursdays. She can be reached via:

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Essentials of institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as panacea for good governance




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Why would I think I can PROFFER A CURE FOR the ailing systems in the governance of our great nation? At least a good man can try, I have for over period of time now perused the thought —consistently- of the possibility of good governance, at least good governance, not great or excellent governance- even though that is easily achievable using the same principles for good governance- but at least we would do well to appreciate good governance in our good homeland of Nigeria, before I go on ranting about my thoughts, my people let me be quick to return to the subject of our discuss; “the essentials of institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as a panacea for good governance”.

Let take a deep breadth as we explore this topic, the irony of the truth is that The Panacea for good government is good governance, there is no hard and fast route about it, here we have a few of its components in institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability, Good governance is like the proverbial good deed you give it and it comes right back at you, what is governance? Governance is simply the manner or style of government practiced in a particular location; in this case (our case) it is democratic government, which is a government of the people for the people by the people so good governance would be a complete cycle of the being a government elected by the people and then the delivery of the goods of its governance for the people (who duly elected the ones in governance), which would have to take us back to an even more important question for good governance to be anticipated, are the people in government democratically elected?

This question alone helps us to see that institutional effectiveness is first of all key in attaining good governance, as the question poised above is in reference to institution the Electoral Body, in our case INEC.

So what are the essentials of effectiveness for institutions to live up to expectation?

  1. Key and Competent Personnel: – not just getting the competent people but getting the right people for the right places.
  2. Policy Guided operations according to the institutions’ founding principles.
  3. Ethical interpretation of Law and legal processes
  4. Ethical Operations, Management and of all activities
  5. Optimization of standards with International acceptable modus operandi
    In addition to the above with the afore mentioned virtues of Accountability and transparency, good governance is left from aspirations to affirmative reality; Accountability is the act of being held responsible for your actions this helps to hold good governance players responsible for their actions in tandem with institutions, which is why the first factor is very important, and finally being transparent, being frank, firm and open, saying exactly what one means and meaning what one says, this when institutions and people in them say what they mean and mean what they say, not with hidden motives or agenda.

When all the factors described above are bundled to form a complete system of governance; good governance is sure to thrive.

Finally in addition to all these my personal opinion rests upon the afore discussed as already known factors and processes needed for good governance, especially by the Nigerian institutions and people in governance, as we have notable institutions, what i think is that the Nigerian institutions and people in governance should ‘Take Action’ in doing the right thing!

All Nigerian institutions, people in government have knowledge of all this factors, or at least moral inclination to do the right thing, but what we lack is the actual DOING, and if we as Nigerians, can cultivate the habit of DOING; then all our ideas, ideologies institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as well as every other factors that contribute to good governance would then become a conscious cultural norm of the Nigerian people which will necessitate the birth and practice of good governance in our nation.


Peter Ameh

-2019 Presidential Candidate

  • Former National Chairman Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC)
    -National Secretary CUPP
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Tinubu cannot remove a CBN governor without 2/3rd senate majority




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By Frank Tietie

The recently announced removal of the embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefele and the Deputy Governors of the Bank by the fiat of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not in compliance with the provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007. Therefore, it is illegal!

Whereas Section 11 of the CBN Act provides for several grounds for the removal of the CBN Governor or Deputy Governors, whenever such removal is based on the decision of the President, as in this reported case of Emiefele and his deputies, it can only have effect where the President has first sought and obtained the approval of a two-thirds Senate majority.

Clearly, there is no evidence that the President indeed sought and obtained the required two-thirds majority of the Nigerian Senate before announcing the formal removal of Governor Emiefele with his deputies and the appointment of a new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Consequently, the president is in error, and all his recent actions in removal and appointment of a Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria can be set aside by the courts.

According to the Court Appeal in the case of Olotu v. President of Federal Republic of Nigeria & ors, it held that:
It is a trite point of law that when a statute dictates a certain mode of doing something, then that method and no other must be employed in the performance of that act. Put differently, where a legislation lays down a procedure for a thing, there should be no other method of doing it

Nigeria operates a Presidential-Federalist system of government with a high concentration of political and executive powers in the person of the President. Therefore, this infraction of the CBN Act by the President on the removal of the CBN Governor may pass without any censure of the National Assembly or review by the Judiciary. But it is such disregard for plain provisions of the law by the President who is supposed to set the example of legal compliance, that creates the usual incipient negative impact on constitutional democracy which rests on the rule of law.

Therefore whenever an administration starts glossing over express provisions of the law that serve to guarantee order, peace, good governance and economic prosperity of Nigeria, the culture of disregard for court order and widespread violation of human rights begins to cascade down the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government together with all the other strata of government across the states and local governments. This has been the bane of Nigeria’s stable development in all spheres and the recipe for corrupt abuse of political power and violation of human rights. That’s why military junta often truncated national democracies. May that be far from us!

The Nigerian state spends huge financial and human resources to maintain its democratic structures. Therefore, the National Assembly and its leadership must stand up at all times to live up to their responsibilities in upholding the principles of democracy and separation of powers to avoid tyrannical acts of the executive by requiring strict compliance to every law that mandates its approval on such matters the President is required to apply for.

Therefore, when the National Assembly indeed discharges its roles in the political equation of checks and balances with the President and the Judiciary, there will be less of interventions by self styled but well-meaning activists and civil society organisations who are often referred to as busybodies but are determined to seek judicial review of executive actions to ensure the rule of law and a stable Nigerian society.

Frank Tietie,
Lawyer, Social Commentator & Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), writes from Abuja, Nigria

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