Saraki restates loyalty to APC, rallies support for Buhari

NATIONAL Assembly was
almost shutdown recently
when some groups of protesters
under the guise of ‘Occupy
NASS’ stormed the assembly
main gate with the aimed of
taking over the premises. In the
placards many of them carried,
they insisted that the Senate
President, Senator Bukola
Saraki must resign to face his
ongoing trial at the Code of
Conduct Tribunal, CCT.
The chaos raised by the protest
promptly compelled security
operatives at the entrance gate
to lock the gate to avoid total
breakdown of law and order.
This development, thus forced
many motorists working in the
National Assembly to make use
of alternative routes such as the
Villa and the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation,
SSG.
The protest, which lasted
for three good days, has been
dismissed in some quarters as
politically motivated. Perhaps,
this is why the Senate Leader,
Mohammed Ali Ndume
described the action of the anti-
Saraki group as “dangerous for
our democracy”.
He said: “That is why we are
not saying anything about them
because what is happening
out there is a very dangerous
precedent that we are trying to
set.
Nigerians and you too the
press will have to help to define
right; know that where your right ends, my own starts.
“I contested to be senator of
Borno South. I did not force myself
on my people and therefore,
somebody out there, especially
the one that did not elect me,
cannot force me out because I
didn’t come in by force.
“I came in by ballot, not by gun
and not by placard; I have posters
but not placards. So, if for example,
I am short of performance and my
constituents feel that they didn’t
have time to waste, there is a clear
cut process: collect signatures,
ask for me to be recalled. That is
the democratic way and not by
coming in here to stand and say,
you want to occupy NASS.
“I don’t really know what they
want to achieve by occupying
NASS. It doesn’t work that way.
If you strongly feel that Ndume
is not doing well to represent southern Borno,
next time, if you are
up to 35 years, you
just go and contest
and defeat the man
and come here and
do better.”
But by and large,
the truth remains
that such rare
demonstration
has indeed reignited
the desire
of recalling inactive
and non performing
lawmakers in both
federal and state
assemblies. In
fact, the argument
is that instead of
people taking the pains of coming
to Abuja in the name of protesting
against their representative, the
best option is to move for the
recall of the legislator as captured
in Sections 69 and 110 of the 1999
Constitution (as amended).
Section 69 states thus: “A
member of the Senate or of the
House of representatives may
be recalled as such a member
if: there is a presentation to the
Chairman of the Independent
National Electoral Commission, a
petition in their behalf, signed by
more than one -half of the persons
registered to vote in that member’s
constituency alleging their loss of
confidence in that member; and
which signatures are duly verified
by the Independent National
Electoral Commission; the petition
is thereafter, in a referendum
conducted by the Independent
National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of
receipt of the petition, approved
by a simple majority of the votes
of the persons registered to vote in
that member’s constituency.”
For the sake of simplicity, the
above provision is broken down
into the following steps: The
electorate must come up with a
petition alleging loss of confidence
in a law-maker. It should be noted
that what is “loss of confidence” is not defined in the constitution
and this means there is no
need to accuse a lawmaker
of any wrongdoing or for a
lawmaker to be culpable of
any misconduct before the
electorate can say they have lost
confidence in him; the petition
must be signed by more than
one-half of the registered voters
in that member’s constituency.
For example, if a member’s
constituency has 1000 registered
voters, not less than 501
registered voters must sign
the petition; the petition must
be submitted to the Chairman
of the Independent National
Electoral Commission; Upon
submission, the Independent
National Electoral Commission
must do the following two
things: It must verify the
authenticity of the signatures;
It must conduct a referendum
within ninety days of the receipt
of the petition in order to get it
approved by a simple majority
of the votes of registered
persons in that constituency. For
example, if only 500 out of 1000
registered voters turn out for the
referendum, a simple majority
of which may be anything
from 251 votes upward will be
enough to approve the petition.
It is indeed sad that a good
number of legislators collect
huge sums of money and still
do not contribute meaningfully
to effective lawmaking. These
groups of legislators (bench
warmers) often do not attend planary and when they do they
come very late, so as to avoid
contributing to debates and bills.
Regrettably, they don’t also
attract any meaningful projects
to their constituents as a way of
alleviating the sufferings and
untold hardship being experienced
by those that voted for them.
Perhaps, this is why many
advocated for the simplification
of the seemingly cumbersome
process of recalling these
lawmakers, who have stunted
the wheel of development in the
various constituents.
Although this power of
recalling underperformed
legislators vested to Nigerians
by the constitution has not been
successful in the country, many
argued that the mere fact that it
is constitutional promotes good
governance and accountability.
According to Barrister Kehinde
Adegbite, “I believe that those
sections should be retained as we
have them in the constitution. For
me, upon critical consideration,
the process is not as cumbersome
as it seems to appear when
looked at casually. Even if
individual voters find the process
impracticable and unworkable, it
is a question of time. With strong
and vibrant civil society groups,
the process may be successfully
deployed to recall an errant
lawmaker.
“One obvious danger in
simplifying the process is that
it may also be used by mischief
makers or defeated opponents
to thwart the will of the people
by invoking it to remove a
performing, pro-people and anticorruption
lawmaker. Leaving
the section as it is, will help offer
the lawmakers some protection
from unnecessary threats and
distraction of recall.
“Lawmakers need to
concentrate and perform their
legislative duties without fear of
being recalled through the whims
and caprices of some powerful
forces or power-brokers in their
constituencies. If any amendment
is to be made at all, it must be
to spell out in greater details,
how recall should be effected
in practical terms. This is the
case under the Californian law
which requires a recall notice
to be served on a lawmaker
who is to be recalled so that he
may make a defence within a
specified period of time.
“Disappointingly, the
Nigerian constitutional
provisions on recall, lack such
details and worse still, the
Electoral Act is totally silent on
the procedure to effect recall in
practice. For example, nothing
is said about when a recall
election will hold or whether
a recalled lawmaker will have
right to challenge his removal
in court or not. As the law is
presently in Nigeria on recall, it
may be improperly employed to
remove a lawmaker, especially
with the backing of a political
godfather or any person who
has what it takes.”
Therefore, it is on this note that
the civil society groups and nongovernmental
organizations
should double efforts on
sensitising Nigerians on the
need to always vote people
of character and intellectual
capacity as their representatives.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to
reiterate that while exercising
this constitutional right, it
should not be abused or use for
selfish political reasons


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