Human rights lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, berated Nigeria’s federal lawmakers for failing to approve bills or pass laws that would benefit Nigerians.
Adegboruwa berated members of the National Assembly for their usual hassle of signing loans presented to them by President Muhammadu Buhari, but the implementation of constituency plans for the masses had become a burden on them.
SAN stated them in its essay titled “Nigeria and Legislative Woe” written to respond to Buhari’s failure to sign the Election Law (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the reluctance of members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives to act. in the interest of Nigerians.
He said: “This National Assembly can only follow the line of the executive; this is the pure truth, which is why the so-called collection of signatures did not yield anything.
“Senators would then rush to give the president approval for other loans and also pass the heavily inflated budget in which constituency projects were padded enough to allow lawmakers to fight with their governors for the campaigns. from 2023.
“It has now been suggested that this was all a plot by the ruling party to deceive Nigerians and that the section on direct primary elections was just a trap deliberately inserted to truncate Nigerians’ desire to convey electronically the results.
“Well, anyway, history won’t be kind to those who have the golden opportunity to advance our democratic credentials but choose to spoil it.”
He added: “The 8th National Assembly led by Senator Bukola Saraki had every opportunity to restructure Nigeria and save us from this current experience of evolving into a failed state.
“Conferences were held in all geopolitical areas of Nigeria and people spoke with one voice about the kind of reforms they wanted the National Assembly to implement in the areas of resource control, policing, State, autonomy of local governments, positive discrimination for women, devolution of powers through a drastic decongestion of the Exclusive Legislative List, participation of young people in governance and electoral reforms.
“Hopes were really high and everything was ready for the historic day when the harmonized bills would be tabled on the floor of the two chambers of the National Assembly. One after the other, Senator Saraki and the Right Honorable Dogara manipulated the process to overturn the proposed big reforms, believing they were smart.
“Soon after, many of them were unable to return to the Chambers they did not use, some of them ended up with Nollywood comedy videos while others left. rushed to enroll in their law degrees, hoping to graduate someday to continue the stuff. Good enough, history is still mankind’s best teacher. We all watch and wait.
“Now, all of the reasons the president put forward in his letter to the National Assembly for denying assent to the bill relate to national security, legal issues, economic capacity and the fundamental right of choice.
“The problem with this closure mechanism is that these reasons will also affect the general elections of 2023, if they are not tackled head-on now through the passage of the Electoral Reform Bill. Whatever security challenges do not allow the holding of primary elections, certainly more devastating for general elections.
“Indeed, this would have been the best time to test the power of our soldiers and law enforcement. Was the president really serious when he spoke of direct undemocratic primary elections? Article 228 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides as follows:
“The National Assembly may, by law, provide for:
(a) guidelines and rules for ensuring internal democracy within political parties, including the drafting of laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party conventions;
(b) the attribution to the Independent National Electoral Commission of powers which may appear to the National Assembly as necessary or desirable in order to enable the Commission to more effectively ensure that political parties respect the practices of internal democracy, including the right to transparent conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party conventions;
(d) for the attribution to the Commission of other powers which may appear to the National Assembly as necessary or desirable in order to enable the Commission to better ensure the respect by the political parties of the provisions of this part of this chapter .
Adegboruwa added that “from the point of view of the Constitution, the National Assembly was therefore in the proper exercise of its legislative powers by making arrangements for the conduct of direct party primaries to determine the choice of political party candidates.
“Nothing can be more democratic than giving people a direct opportunity to choose their own leaders, as opposed to an indirect system of control, manipulation and dictation, which is the backbone of most political parties.
“I then began to wonder what the president meant when he spoke of the need to leave room for democratic choices in the conduct of primary elections. What about security?
“The primary election is local to the grassroots, where at the neighborhood level, the people themselves take control of the whole process. So, if the primary election cannot take place due to fear of insecurity, then we might as well say goodbye to the general election, which will be more volatile as a lot more will be at stake at this level.
“Speaking of economic reasons, if at present the INEC is not sufficiently empowered and funded to undertake the supervision of a simple primary election, then how will it supervise the congresses and conventions of the party and will it then prepare for the general elections? It must be some kind of joke from the president, to say that political parties cannot hold direct primary elections because INEC does not have the funds to monitor them. “