By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN Chieftain, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, Senate Minority, at a recent Executive/Legislative parley in Lagos, opened up on some national issues, the victory of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Lagos politics in 2011 as it affects Governor Babatunde Fashola. Excerpts:
On why the Senate threw out the Executive Bill on amendment of the new Electoral Act.
The bill was presented as an executive bill but majority of the lawmakers felt that there were some provisions in the bill that should not be included. Besides that, the perception was that it was an attempt to introduce other issues through unlawful means.
The reason why we are talking of the alteration is because the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said it will not be ready for election in January 2011, which is the issue. Why are they streamlining the party primaries, order of election, all these are already determined in the 2010 Electoral Act. Why are they bringing other things?
The issue ought to have been change in time because INEC is not ready for January, which is the issue before the House. It is like history is repeating itself just like when (Chief Olusegun) Obasanjo’s administration tried tenure elongation, which was brought to the House. In addition, the National Assembly only asked INEC to present the time frame they needed which the House has done. These are the concerns of members of the House.
On streamlining of party primaries
There is no such decision in the constitution to streamline party primaries. That will be over regulating the political space. The party should have a level of autonomy in determining how their candidates will emerge for election.
And all the Senate has done in the last amendment is to provide regulations to that effect in terms of direct primaries and indirect primaries. Other issue considered by the House is not allowing political appointees to be automatic delegate. Because by the time political appointees become delegates there will be some undue advantages conferred on certain people within the party.
They can be delegate but they should go and seek for election before they can enjoy such privilege in the party either in a mini_congress or convention. If automatic delegate is allowed it will put fear into every member of the party.
It is already stated in the Electoral Act of 2010. The guidelines state the functions of a party, we cannot ask them to take over the function of a political party, we only said that there is need for us to enhance internal democracy, which is lacking among the parties.
On public perception of ineffectiveness of National Assembly in the polity.
Out of the three arms of government, it is the Legislature and Executive that are always developed. Recently, we celebrated 50 years anniversary of independence. And large part of the 50 years was under military administrations. During this time, the National Assembly was locked up and this, naturally, has led to a stunt in the growth of the legislature.
In spite of that, the legislature has tried considering the limitation that the country has suffered. The lawmakers may not have performed to the expectation of Nigerians, but that does not mean that the legislature has not done very well. Under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there was much anxiety in the country.
The country was almost in a topsy_turvy but the legislature came up with that judgement that led to the transfer of power to President Goodluck Jonathan. It will not be fair for Nigerians to pretend that the legislature did not contribute its portion during the time of political crisis in Nigeria. The legislature has performed well taking into cognisance the limitation that the legislature has suffered in the political evolution of Nigeria.
On challenges of legislation in the country
The long military rule in the country has affected Nigerians’ understanding of how political administration works, and the role of the legislature. During all these time, the legislative house was under lock. The legislature has not grown to achieve its full potentials. All these are some of the constraints facing the legislature. Despite these constrains, Nigerians compare the lawmakers with the legislative arm of other country.
They forget that we are operating from a different environment. Things that we are exposed to in Nigeria, other lawmakers are not exposed to them over there. The legislature is inadequately starved in terms of quality and funding. Nonetheless, the situation is better at the National Assembly. It is worse at the state level as the legislative arm is tied to the executive arm.
The governor is the single controller of the state.
Another constraint is external legislative influence that affects House activities. This influence comes from those who call themselves godfathers. They dictate for various state assemblies. Because they were the brains behind each candidate’s nomination, they sponsor campaigns and ensure the victory of such candidate at the polls.
Once they succeed in getting the ticket for the candidate, they begin to control the activities of the representative.
The fourth problem is in the area of capacity building. The House does not have a robust capacity to meet the various challenges confronting it in the area of lawmaking, oversights function or representations. Several times, the lawmakers require certain information and support to perform certain functions, which are not available for the House. This makes the lawmakers get frustrated easily.
Another factor is the rapid turnover in the legislative House in Nigeria. In the Senate, of the 109 members that contested the 2007 election, only 23 members returned to the House. However, the situation is worse in the House of Representatives. Now, we have new members, who are just learning the ropes. Some of the lawmakers cannot differentiate between a motion and a bill.
The experience is not there and the legislative arm of Government thrives on experience. Despite the high expectation, the legislature in this country has tried to live up to expectation.
On the Abuja bomb blasts and others
The Independence Day bombing was quiet unfortunate. It is senseless and it is uncalled for. However, the reaction of many Nigerians to the incident was wrong. And, Nigerians began to politicize it. Nigerians should have come together to condemn the illicit act and ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted according to the law. However, it became a time for some Nigerians to gain political millage from the illicit act.
The act further dented the image of the country internationally, drive for tourism. And, this will reduce the rate of foreign investors to Nigeria as they will consider the country unsafe. The situation also calls for the question of our ability to manage the challenges confronting the country.
How to stop the trend
The best way to solve it is for us to get to the roots of the matter. One of the things that we can point at is the fact that the country has not done well in terms of societal justice. We are yet to get to that level which is one of the national ethics of Nigeria We need to look at the issue of social justice with a view to creating a just society. This is a society that can guarantee peace and security. Government need to do a lot in that regard.
Secondly, we also need to take another look at the entire security system in Nigeria. We need to develop a culture of reprimanding those that fail to do their job responsibly. The greatest impetus for crime commission is non-apprehension and prosecution of crime perpetrators. Previous perpetrators of bomb blasts in the country are yet to be prosecuted for their act.
So, there is urgent need for us to improve on our justice process, so that we can be able to sentence those that committed the act quickly. If in Nigeria, we still find it difficult to apprehend those that commit crime like the twin bombing on Independence Day, that means the country is emboldening others who may want to commit such offence. This further takes Nigeria to imbibing the culture of impunity.
Presently, none of those who perpetrated the previous bombings has been apprehended. These are some of the things that embolden others, who intend to commit crime in Nigeria. We realize that the entire justice process in the country is very slow but we must ensure that we strive to fast track the process.
This is necessary because when we are able to apprehend and prosecute it will serve as deterrent to others who may wish to commit such offence in future.
Fayemi, Ekiti State electoral victory
ACN is not a party of magicians but a party of committed democrats. Members of ACN are committed because of Democracy, good Governance and Justice. That is the reason why we are able to push through our conviction in terms of Ekiti election. We won that election since 2007 but the mandate was stolen. I commend the effort of Dr. Kayode Fayemi. He represents the resilience, zeal, courage, commitment of the people of Ekiti and ACN.and all the leaders of the party that showed doggedness in the pursuit of justice.
The victory is for democracy, rule of law, Ekiti State and ACN.
However, Ekiti victory is not a fluke. Of course it sends strong signal to other states in the country under the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the South West. In 2003, when all the states in South West were won by PDP except Lagos, we complained but gradually we are getting those states back. It is a justification of that alarm in 2007. Come 2011, we will take them back.
On threats by coalition of 26 opposing political parties to oust Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State in 2011
What can a one-man-party do? These parties, none of their candidate won any position at the last election. Even a councillor, they were unable to win. These parties are just looking for relevance and media attention.
They cannot offer the electorate anything if they are voted into political offices. Thank God we have a Governor that has performed very well; he has become a benchmark and a symbol of good governance in Nigeria. Edo State is following suit and in the next couple of months, Ekiti State will witness a total change. It does not hold water. It is a gang up of irrelevant parties. They exist on the pages of newspapers. I am confident that come 2011, Lagos State will be untouchable for any party.