Electoral Act: Federal lawmakers, governors in battle of wits

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    Electoral Act: Federal lawmakers, governors in battle of wits
    Politics Nov 23, 2010

    By Emmanuel Aziken, Clifford Ndujihe & Luka Biniyat

    The proposed amendments to the Electoral Act which aim to grant membership of the National Executive Committees of political parties to federal legislators is the subject of criticisms from many stakeholders who describe the legislators’ motif as selfish.

    But the legislators say that the bill is aimed at freeing them from the yoke of equally selfish governors. As governors swoop on the legislators in a battle of wits, Vanguard examines the lawmakers’ crusade and the governors’ self-centered bid to retain maximum power even while the populace watch askance at the fight of two elephants:

    As the Senate debated the controversial constitution amendment proposal to give a third term to executive office holders in 2006, one of the surprise onlookers at the gallery when the Nasarawa State senators spoke was Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, the then governor of the State. Like a monitor, Adamu watched with approval as the Senators from his State endorsed the controversial proposal that would have benefitted him and his then patron, President Olusegun Obasanjo and kept the Senators in perpetual servitude to him.

    In his days as governor his words were supreme and all legislators, irrespective of his performance, heeded his every whim.

    Such overbearing influence of serving governors is undoubtedly connected to the influence they bear in effecting the political viability of the legislators.

    Now the legislators seem determined to throw off the unholy yoke of the governors over the parties and principally the dominant Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Their means of freedom is the proposed amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act which aims to grant membership of the National Executive Committees of all parties to all serving federal legislators.

    Though kicked on all sides over the move the federal legislators who are returning to duty today are themselves determined despite the seeming pressures from their governors.

    The undaunted lawmakers are bent on whittling down the powers of the governors in the NEC and would not be ‘blackmailed’ into abandoning the project in what is panning out as a battle for the survival of the fittest.

    The states’ helmsmen are also not letting off without a fight. They have swooped on lawmakers from their states to back track and the moves appear to be yielding dividends.

    Lapping on the request of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for an amendment of the amended Electoral Act to give it more time to conduct credible polls, the legislators proceeded to propose more adjustments including enlarging the parties’ NECs.

    Among prominent Nigerians, who berated the lawmakers over the move are former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, legal icon, Prof. Ben Nwabueze and Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.

    The controversial amendment

    Among others, the controversial bill seeks to provide for the admission of former presiding officers of the parliament to join the NEC of their political parties.

    One of the proposed amendments pertains to section 87(4) of the Principal Act  and states:

    “Every political party in Nigeria shall establish in its Constitution a National Executive Committee (NEC) which shall be the highest decision making body of the political party.â€

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