LAGOS—THE Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, yesterday, condemned the insistence of the National Assembly to amend provisions of Section 87 of the 2010 Electoral Act to confer automatic members of the National Executive Committees of political parties on all federal legislators despite public outcry against it.
A statement issued by the association’ President, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola said: “If the move succeeds, the 360 members of the House of Representatives and 109 Senators will constitute major power blocs in their parties, particularly the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party which controls over 80 per cent of the membership of the National Assembly.
“We are alarmed that in spite of the overwhelming public condemnation and the intense opposition which the proposed amendment received at a joint public hearing by the two chambers of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives still went ahead to include it in the Bill, which is now slated for third reading.
“The clause violated Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees freedom of association because freedom of association implies the freedom of members of an association to choose who shall direct affairs of their association. The clause is an imposition on the parties of those who will direct the parties, the first and immediate beneficiaries being those who are now passing the law.
“Furthermore the clause expressly contravenes the letters of Section 223 of the same constitution which states that ‘the Constitution and rules of a political party shall provide for the periodic election on a democratic basis of the principal officers and members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party’.
NPAN noted: “It is, therefore, fraudulent for National Assembly members to seek to be members of parties’ NEC by legislative fiat in total disregard of the constitutional stipulated procedure. It is in fact a coup de partis politiques and indeed legislative coup d’etat.
“If the National Assembly remains adamant in foisting the undemocratic law on the nation, then it shall be the heroic duty of President Goodluck Jonathan to act in the overall interest of Nigeria and Nigerians by withholding his assent and then approaching the Supreme Court to seek a pronouncement on its constitutionality”
NPAN also requested a drastic review of the excessive total remuneration package of each federal legislator, which is about 1000 times the present lowest remuneration in the Federal Public Service and also of the order of 1000 times the proposed new national minimum wage of 18,000 per month.
It said: “This is terrible and terrifying in the face of prevailing poverty increasing insecurity and continuing decline in the quality of life of the average Nigerian whom he is elected to serve. Even if a federal legislator’s remuneration is now reduced to one tenth of its current value, he would still be earning about 100 times the proposed new national minimum wage, a multiple which most Nigerians will still consider excessive”.