Chris Steven, Abuja
An opposition party, Democratic People’s Congress (DPC) has described the passage of independent candidature by the Senate in the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution as a legislative suicide.
The Senate unwittingly committed a legislative suicide by approving independent candidature in the constitutional amendment. It is manifest that most of our Senators are not popular in their constituencies and would not get their parties’ nominations for reelection.
Independent candidature is the only option an unpopular Senator can use to perpetrate himself in office with the wealth acquired while in power. It is not in national interest”, the party said in a statement on Thursday.
“With some Nigerians’ penchant for political appellation of “His Excellency” and “Honourable” on those who aspired or contested a presidential, governorship or legislative election, it is certain that INEC will have between 500 to 1000 candidates in a ballot paper. It will be chaotic and confusing to the electorate. This could come up as Nigerian democracy gradually develops, it said .
This is without prejudice to the proposed unbundling of INEC. Certainly it will be an uphill task to allow independent candidates in our electoral process. At the appropriate time Nigerians will welcome independent candidates as obtainable in advanced democracies like United States of America”
It also urged the 36 State House of Assemblies to reject the Senate’s endorsement of independent candidacy.
Olusegun Peters, National Chairman of DPC who issued the statement kicked against what he described as the unconstitutional power the Senate arrogated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties that did not win an election.
This he said, would not augur well for the democratic process at a time the nation’s electoral process is grossly marred by irregularities, rigging, brigandage among others saying “ it is unacceptable, unjust, undemocratic and in bad faith by major political parties who see emerging parties as a threat to their continued stay in power”.
He argued that political parties are not deregistered in advanced multi-parties democracies based on their failure to win legislative seats or secure a percentage of votes cast in polls.
“Political parties are allowed to function or fizzle out if their manifestoes are not acceptable to the people, definitely not by obnoxious, outrageous and draconian laws and legislative fiat.
Nigerian courts have delivered judgments against ill-conceived deregistration of political parties. It is obvious that freedom of association including freedom to form a political party is an alienable right which no law can abrogate” Peters said.
He called on the 36 State House of Assemblies to reject what he called Senate misguided legislative recklessness, rascality and impunity, ‘to close the democratic space at a time it should be widened to accelerate the nation’s democratic process’.
“It is justice juxtaposed, which will breed anarchy, autocracy and dictatorship. It is time for all lovers of democracy to speak out against this legislative provocation that will suffocate our nascent democracy”, he added.