By Ehichioya Ezomon
Nigerians shouldn’t worry about the National Assembly (NASS) overriding President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021. And the Presidency doesn’t need to blackmail or coerce the NASS to shelve the voyage of discovery.
This is because the NASS “does not have the liver” to contemplate, or attempt to override Buhari’s latest refusal to sign the piece of legislation that promises credible electoral processes.
Outspoken Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State had risked a bet that the NASS members, for lack of courage and strength of character, wouldn’t strike down Buhari’s veto of the Bill.
What were members to do in the circumstance? Override the president’s veto, or rework the Bill, as Buhari has requested, by removing the “offending” provision for direct primaries.
But when the chips were down, and urgent action needed to make the legislation become an Act implementable, especially for the February 2023 general election, the NASS members proved Wike right by hurriedly closing plenary for holiday till January 18, 2022.
Most troubling is that the initiative to embark on vacation began in the House of Representatives, which played a pivotal role in the late insertion of the provision for direct primaries in the Bill.
In particular, Nigerians would recall how House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila led the debates on direct primary election he says is germane to the processes of advancing democracy in Nigeria.
In Lagos on December 30, Gbajabiamila relived his push for direct primaries, saying: “If you follow the history of the amendment of the direct and indirect primary bill, I initiated that amendment bill for a good reason, and it is for people to participate in elections. “These are the people you see around when you campaign every four years: come rain, come shine. For me, it does not make sense that these people do not have a voice in who represents them. It is part of being used and I didn’t like that.
“One of the ways to reform the system is to make it more accountable and to make the people have a voice in who represents them as opposed to a few people sitting in the four corners of a wall (room) and writing results. That’s what the amendment was about.”
As the Bill was in abeyance, Gbajabiamila visited the Aso Rock Villa, in Abuja, to acquaint Buhari with the importance of direct primaries to mass participation by mostly youths in the electoral process.
Yet, when prompt action was expected on the Bill, Gbajabiamila balked, and hit the gavel to suspend plenary for a full month, for members to embark on holiday while the polity reels in turmoil.
According to him, the time was short to address the Electoral Bill in haste, as members must pass other important bills, such as the 2022 Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill before vacationing.
The Senate is also guilty of stalling the Bill, but Senate President Ahmad Lawan tried to steer the Upper Chamber into looking at the issue in two sittings before joining the House in the holiday binge.
The Senate was locked in several closed sessions. At a stage, members reportedly “gathered over 73 signatures” to override Buhari’s veto. But the speculations remained in those realms!
Left in the lurch, Senator Lawan declared that as a two-chamber assembly, the Senate couldn’t take a second look at the Electoral Bill without the House. So, he proclaimed a one-month holiday.
On the behind-the-scenes session by members, Lawan said: “The Senate… discussed how to respond to the letter from Mr. President on the electoral bill amendment. The Senate consequently resolved to consult with the House of Representatives in January when both the Senate and House will be in session.
“Presently, the House of Reps has gone on recess and like we all know, the constitutional provision is for the Senate and House of Representatives to jointly take the appropriate action.”
Again, Gbajabiamila has inelegantly intervened in the Bill impasse, giving an inkling that the House might foreclose direct primaries, and go against public clamour for Buhari’s veto to be overridden.
Idiomatically-proverbial, he said: “When we come back, the House will look at those amendments. We will sit as the National Assembly, look at the reasons, and consider removing that clause and pass the bill so that we do not do away with the baby and the bath water.
“But then, it is not my decision to make. It is the decision of the National Assembly. If they determine that the reasons are not good enough, then, there is a process prescribed by the constitution.
“They need 2/3 of the members to override the president. There is a reason the constitution prescribes 2/3; veto is not something you easily override.
“If they muster enough and they believe it is in the best interest of Nigerians, then, that is what we will do; otherwise, we will take out the clause and pass the bill so that Nigerians can have a credible electoral act and due process. They must get it.”
Seizing on the obvious volte face by members of NASS, and the likelihood of not overriding Buhari’s veto, the Presidency has turned the tables on the legislators, accusing them of attempting to foist a dangerous Bill on the country.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement on December 28, stated that “… the President will do whatever he can to protect this country’s democracy, and that includes withholding assent from this Bill.”
“These amendments have been presented as a means to enhance and build upon our democratic processes. After careful review, the President’s Office has found that the opposite is true,” Shehu said.
“Rather, the proposed amendments entail significant legal, financial, economic and security consequences for all Nigerians, principal among which would be a severe spike in the cost of holding primary elections by parties – integral to democracies the world over.
“To those that would rather that limited public funds be spent on politicking during this time of global crisis, we say: cease these cynical games. Tell the Nigerian people openly what you want. Put your – or rather their – money where your mouth is.”
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who opposes direct primaries from the onset, took the debate further on the cost implications to government bankrolling political party primaries and the 2023 elections.
Estimating politicians to be 60 million of Nigeria’s population of over 200 million, Malami says it’s unfair to the 160 million non-politicians to spend N305 billion on INEC’s duties for 2023 polls, and N200 billion to conduct primaries by the 18 political parties.
The Minister, in a phone-in programme on Radio Kano, monitored in Abuja, asked rhetorically: “Are you fair to the 160 million Nigerians using their wealth just to conduct primary election to produce a party candidate, despite other demands by the public?
“My answer to this is that, to spend this N305 billion that will be given to the INEC and the about N200 billion to be given to the political parties is not fair to the remaining 160 million Nigerians who have no business about politics and political appointments.”
While the guessing and waiting game continues in the lead-up to the 2023 polls, the question maybe asked: What’s the guarantee that the president will assent the Bill if the NASS were to effect the changes that Buhari has required?
That triggers another poser by critics: That the object of the attacks on direct primaries is located elsewhere, particularly in the provision for electronic transmission of poll results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)!
That the eleventh-hour insertion of direct primaries in the Bill was a ploy to get President Buhari to withhold his assent, so as to thwart the implementation of electronic transmission of election results!
So, as Buhari reportedly stated, the floating of direct primaries is a conspiracy by governors and NASS members to abort electronic transmission of poll results. But then, their quest appears in tandem with the expectation of the Presidency.
From the manner it’s hammering on the “dangers” posed by the Electoral Bill to the polity, the governors and NASS members may’ve unwittingly sanctioned the bidding of the administration.
What’s glaring is that with or without opposition to direct primaries, the government seems unenthusiastic about the Electoral Bill that Buhari has repeatedly turned down, and which the NASS members haven’t grown some balls to advance its processes.
Tinubu’s Cabinet Of Controversy
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: email@example.com.
Essentials of institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability as panacea for good governance
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?
- Key and Competent Personnel: – not just getting the competent people but getting the right people for the right places.
- Policy Guided operations according to the institutions’ founding principles.
- Ethical interpretation of Law and legal processes
- Ethical Operations, Management and of all activities
- 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.
SO, DEAR FELLOW NIGERIANS’ LETS DO THE RIGHT THING, LETS TAKE ACTION!
-2019 Presidential Candidate
- Former National Chairman Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC)
-National Secretary CUPP
Tinubu cannot remove a CBN governor without 2/3rd senate majority
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.
Lawyer, Social Commentator & Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), writes from Abuja, Nigria
News From Kogi3 weeks ago
Echocho Challenges Tribunal Judgment ordering rerun in 94 polling units
Appointment5 days ago
Tinubu names El-Rufai, Tope Fasua, others in New appointments
Appointment2 weeks ago
Reps member commends Tinubu over critical appointments for Akwa Ibom people
News From Kogi3 weeks ago
Tribunal voids Kogi East senatorial election, orders rerun
News3 days ago
Tribunal declares Nasir Gawuna, winner of Kano governorship election, as it Sacks AbbaYusuf
Politics1 day ago
Ododo/Oyibo campaign in harvest of decampees as NNPP reps candidate, Amanabo Joins APC with Supporters
News From Kogi2 weeks ago
Natasha is the authentic winner of Kogi Central senatorial election, Tribunal declares
Law2 days ago
Nasarawa Guber: Agabi knocks INEC over inability to defend Sule’s purported victory