By Okey Ndiribe, Asst. Pol. Editor
What do you have to say concerning media reports that some governors actually hijacked and manipulated the constitution amendment process for the purpose of frustrating theÂ proposal for independent candidacy and denying the state legislatures financial autonomy?
Yes, that story has been making the rounds as you have said. But the true picture of the situation would be confirmed by tomorrow (last Friday)Â when we expect to meet the Speakers of the of the 36 state Houses of Assembly. They are expected to come as a body or through some kind of representation to submit their resolutions on the proposed amended constitution which was given to them by the National AssemblyÂ some weeks ago.
Be that as it may, we have it on good authority and this has been reported by some of the newspapers today, that some governors have practically blocked any possibility of granting a first line charge to the legislature. Equally, we also have information that they did the same thing in one or two other sections of the proposed amendments including the proposal on independent candidacy.
You see, when you look at this development, what immediately occurs to you isÂ that some of these governors have the desire to control the political space. Of course, as far as I am concerned, it is too bad for the state Houses of Assembly to have rejected the first line charge for the legislature. Just as we were clamouring for the independence of the Independent National Electoral commission ( INEC), the independence of the judiciary and legislature are also important in a democracy.
The truth of the matter is that the three arms of government which are the executive, legislature and judiciary are coordinates and coordinates are equal partners in a project. So a situation where only the executive now wants to dictate what happens to another arm of government is not in tandem with the true spirit of democracy and the principle ofÂ separation of powers.
Again, what I have found out is that a lot is being said about the desire of governors to impose unpopular candidates in their various states. It is also a fa
ctor that has been taken on board to frustrate independent candidature as was proposed. What it means is that the governors would have a field day and imposeÂ candidates on their respective parties in the various states; such candidates may not necessarily be popular.
This is one of the reasons why we proposed independent candidacy in the proposed amendment; it is because we want to open the political space; it also reduces the tendency for some influential politicians to impose candidates. It also encourages internal democracy.
Well, since those sections have been rejected it means we would have to go back to the drawing board. We would go ahead with those sections that have been endorsed by at least 24Â state Houses of Assembly;Â for those sections that were not passed we would consider the reservations of the state legislatures to see if we could have a consensus position on them because of the future.
Given the present scenario do you think this amendment exercise could be completed within the tenure of the present legislature ?
Definitely, I just told you that we are expecting the resolutions of the 36 state Houses of Assembly tomorrow. Once that happens, the endorsed sections would undergo the the third reading andÂ that would be the end of the exercise. Of course, since it would not require the assent of President Goodluck Jonathan that would be the end of the process.
Does that mean the constitution would have been effectively amended?
Yes, and this in accordance with section nine of the 1999 Constitution. Once we have the third reading and the amended sections go through , that would have been the end of the process.