Pleased profoundly that such pro-active steps are needed in the governance of political parties so as to stabilize the polity, deepen competitiveness, promote internal democracy and safeguard the ongoing constitutional democracy, President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to overrule the controversial tenure extension for the executive committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) headed by Edo state ex- Governor Sir John Oyegun, has been applauded by a leading pro-democracy and Non-governmental Organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
However, HURIWA whilst praising President Muhammadu Buhari for his pro-democracy stance, also carpeted the hierarchy of the professor Mohmood Yakubu –led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for failing to oppose the unconstitutional tenure elongation even when the constitution of Nigeria empowers it to play the legal role of the custodian of the norms, rules and regulations of party formation and governance.
The Rights group said the body language; the persistent conspiratorial silence to the breaches of extant electoral rules including that banning open campaign before the due time which have been violated by minister of communications Adebayo Shittu, by the INEC’s Chairman and his management portrays them as people readily available to be manipulated and used as a willing tool to undermine the credibility of the 2019 General elections.
The group has therefore asked the National Assembly to recommend the replacement of the INEC chairman with an illustrious statesman/Woman and patriot whose loyalty would not be to the ruling party at the centre but to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
HURIWA criticized the conspiratorial silence of INEC many weeks after the National body of the ruling All Progressives Congress flagrantly violated the constitution by granting tenure elongation to the national leadership whose period of leadership would end by June just as the Rights group said INEC by virtue of section 222 of the Nigerian constitution ought to have reprimanded the APC for breaching the constitution of the party and that of section 223 (1) of the Nigerian constitutions.
Specifically, section 223 (1) of the constitution provides thus: “The constitution and rules of a political party shall – (a) provide for the periodical election on a democratic basis of the principal officers and members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party; and (b) ensure that the members of the executive committee or other governing body of the political party reflect the federal character of Nigeria.”
In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA praised president Buhari for doing the right thing in accordance with the supreme law of the land by enforcing the legal advise offered by the Nigerian chief law officer to nullify the said tenure extension which clearly breached all extant statutory provisions and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).
HURIWA said thus: “As a credible pro-democracy platform, we are indeed impressed that president Buhari has behaved like a real statesman by taking this proactive step.”
“It is therefore the expectations of all supporters of the democratization process to be vigilant and ensure that the letters and spirits of the constitution regarding internal democracy within political parties are safeguarded as sacrosanct and inviolable because that is how to consolidate our democracy.”
“As democrats, we urge all party leaders to adhere strictly to the constitution of their political party which must also comply with the provisions enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. Those who seek to lead political platforms that are expected to produce candidates to occupy strategic political offices must be ready to abide by the laws.”
HURIWA reiterated her conviction that Section 223 of the 1999 constitution talks about election of executives of political parties periodically even as the section further explains that the election of the party executives will be deemed to be periodical if done every four years.
“HURIWA is in accord with the lingering question asked in many rational quarters what the fear is of those who are behind the elongation? The executives can contest for re-election and if they are re-elected, so be it. We believe like most lovers of constitutional democracy that no one can deny John Oyegun and others that right, but why circumvent due process? Why thwart constitutional process? So we as constructive pro-democracy campaigners are happy with Mr President for standing for justice, constitutional democracy and the truth today”.