Nigerian electorates have called on the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act 2010 to vest the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the power to disqualify party candidates. The call was made during the Saturday edition of Partners for Electoral Reform weekly radio magazine program ‘#Roadto2015’ on 95.1 Nigeria Info FM. This demand is coming on heels of the ongoing electoral reform undertaken by the National Assembly and the controversies associated with the conduct of political party primaries.
The participants sought an amendment to Section 31, Electoral Act 2010 and paragraph E, item 15 of the Third schedule, 1999 Constitution (as amended) to grant INEC the power to disqualify candidates presented by parties where such candidates lack the qualifications to contest the office they are vying for or they emerge from defective party primaries or where parties doctor list of candidates by substituting those who legitimately emerge as winners of party primaries. Some participants argued that the proposed amendment will no doubt strengthen the Commission in the performance of her function as a regulatory institution. It was also opined that the amendment will positively impact the electoral process and could force parties to practice internal party democracy in the selection of candidates.
Some callers expressed reservation on the proposed amendment. They cautioned against empowering an institution like INEC with such powers where the operational independence of the Commission is not guaranteed based on the existing legal framework. It is believed that the efficacy of such proposed amendment is contingent on the operational independence of the Commission. Therefore is a great need to amend Section 158 of the Constitution to grant the Commission control over its operations.
The National Assembly is urged to ensure the ongoing electoral reforms capture the interest of the Nigerian electorate. The expediency of electoral amendments cannot be overstated in view of the forthcoming general elections hence all stakeholders are enjoined to rise up to the occasion to support our lawmakers in passing amendments that not only deepen electoral governance but ensures the people’s vote count in 2015.
#Roadto2015 is a weekly live radio program that focuses on electoral reform issues in the build up to the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The 10 month old radio program is an initiative for Partners for Electoral Reforms and its aired every Saturday by 9am on 95.1 Nigeria Info FM and streamed live on the internet on Nigeria Info FM Abuja Radio Station – Nigeria Info FM Audio Stream