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Constitution review: Rights groups task N/A committees (2)

By Laja Thomas

The rationale for the  delisting of INEC as a Federal Executive body removes the requirement that the
Chair must be a member of a political party. The participants therefore made the following recommendations.

The appointment of the Chair of INEC shall be by the Council of State which is headed by the President but on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and subject to confirmation by the Senate.

The process of renewal of the appointment of members of the Board of INEC shall be by the Senate on the recommendation of the NJC. Section 155 of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to provide that the tenure of office of the Chairman and members of the Board of INEC shall be five years from the date of appointment, renewable only once. The Chairman and members of the Board of INEC may only be removed by two-thirds majority of the Senate which shall include at least 10 members of the minority parties in the Senate on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The rationale will be spreading out the process of appointment of the Chair and Board of the Electoral Management Body to the three arms of government will guarantee their independence and check the abuse of the discretionary powers of the President. The involvement of the National Judicial Council in the process of selection of members of the Electoral Management Body will make the process more open and transparent.

Qualification of the Chairman and Members of INEC: All members of INEC must be persons of integrity, who are non-partisan, possess vast professional/administrative/academic experience. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman should not be less than 40years of age. Other members of INEC’s Board should not be less than 35 years of age.
The membership of the Board of INEC should consist of the following: Chairman; Deputy Chairman; The Chairman and Deputy must not be of the same gender; Six others (1 of whom must come from each of the six geopolitical zones of the Federation), 2 of these must be women.

One nominee of Civil Society Organizations working in the area of elections and accredited by the proposed Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission; One nominee of Labour Organizations; One nominee of Nigerian Bar Association; One nominee of Women Organizations; One nominee of the Media; One nominee representing peoples with disabilities; and Once appointed, no organisation shall have the power to recall its nominee.

The appointment procedure for the Chairman and members of the Board should be as follows: The National Judicial Council (NJC) should advertise the positions, spelling out requisite qualifications. Receive applications/nominations from the general public. Shortlist three persons for each position. Send the nominations to the National Council of State to select one for each position and forward to the Senate for confirmation.

The National Judicial Council shall have power to recommend to the Council of State from amongst persons which the National Judicial Council would have screened for that purpose, including persons submitted to it by the organizations entitled to do so, for appointment as Chairman, Deputy Chairman and other members of the Independent National Electoral Commission; Advise the Council of State on any matter relating to the reappointment of any member of the Independent National Electoral Commission or on the removal from office of any such member.

The rationale are the Electoral Management Body requires persons with energy, dynamism and drive. The Electoral Management Body requires persons from diverse backgrounds and with diverse knowledge in electoral and constitutional matters.

Unbundling of INEC
The proposal for the establishment of a Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission will help to unbundle INEC to function more efficiently as it faces its core responsibility of organizing free and fair elections. The proposed Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission (PPRRC) shall be empowered to perform the following functions:
Register political parties in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2006; Monitor the organization and operation of the political parties, including their finances; Arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties; Monitor political campaigns and provide rules and regulations which shall govern the activities of political parties; Accredit domestic civil society groups and organizations working in the area of elections and provide rules and regulations which shall govern their observation of elections; Accredit international election observers and provide rules and regulations which shall govern their observation of elections; Accredit national and international media organizations observing elections and provide rules and regulations which shall govern their activities.

The PPRRC shall comprise the following members who are persons of unquestionable characters and should be non-partisan: Chairman; Deputy Chairman;  The Chairman and the Deputy must not be of the same gender; and Six others (1 of whom must come from each of the six geopolitical zones of the Federation), 2 of these must be women; the mode of appointment of the Chairman and members of the Board of the Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission shall be as follows: the NJC shall advertise the position of the Chairman, Deputy and the six  national commissioners;  the NJC shall screen the application received and recommend to the President for appointment subject to confirmation by the Senate; the Tenure of office of members of the Board of Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission shall be five years renewable only once; and the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Members of the Board shall be removed from office by the President acting on the recommendations of the National Judicial Council (NJC) that the member be so removed for his/her inability to discharge the functions of his/her office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.

The Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission shall have power to appoint, dismiss, and exercise disciplinary control over its own staff. We thus recommend that:  Sections 221 – 229 of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to replace all references to INEC with the Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission.

Section 15 of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution should be amended to reflect the new roles and functions assigned to the Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigerian envisages the functioning of national parties with the requisite spread and diversity. The existing conditions for party registration are too lax and this accounts for the formation of parties with no physical existence. It is necessary to unbundle the Electoral Management Body and divest it of some of the functions that exposed it as partisan.


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