Dogara Explains Why Nigeria’s Democracy Not Advancing

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said that the recently concluded primary elections across the different political parties ahead of next year’s general elections show Nigeria’s democracy has not improved.

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Dogara said this at the public presentation of a book; “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aids to the Interpretation of the Constitution, Statutes and Private Documents,” authored by Hon Justice R. N. Ukeje in Abuja on Tuesday.

All the different political parties have concluded all primary elections in October with hundreds of aspirants from 98 political parties who contested in the presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies’ primaries.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had in a notice to all the political parties directed them to conduct primaries as required by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and submit their list of candidates before October 18 October in readiness for the 2019 general elections.

“The last day for submission of lists of sponsored candidates (Form CFOO2) and personal particulars (Form CF001) remains October 18 for Presidential and National Assembly and November 2 for Governorship and State Houses of Assembly,” the electoral umpire had directed the political parties.

But the concluded primaries of the different political parties had been characterized by allegations of injustice by candidates who claimed that their names were unlawfully substituted by the leadership of their individual parties after they emerged winners.

Also, there have been instances where some parties were said to have tried to submit lists of candidates to INEC whereas primary elections never held.

While some aspirants decried their non-inclusion in the primary elections of their parties. Such was the case in the Rivers All Progress Congress (APC) primaries.

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In Adamawa State, two of the aspirants who were challenging the incumbent governor, Muhammed Jibrilla for the APC ticket, former chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu and Mahmud Ahmed, an in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari, both accused the panel sent by the national headquarters of the party of conniving with the governor to declare him the candidate when elections were never conducted.

A similar scenario played out at the Imo State APC as Governor Rochas Okorocha is having a tough time in his effort to install his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as his successor.

When the APC organized its first governorship primary in the state, the Chairman of the election committee, Ahmed Gulak, had fled Imo to declare Senator Hope Uzodinma winner of the primary while the secretary of the committee declared Uche Nwosu winner in Owerri. But the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said that the two results were fake and so ordered another primary election, but six out of the 12 aspirants had indicated that they were not participating in the exercise, saying that they are standing on the declaration of Uzodinma as the winner by Gulak.

Also, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the state were also locked in crisis in the aftermath of its primaries.

Dogara said the “issue of interpretation of statues including the constitution is absolutely important in the advancement of our democracy.”

“If you look at it very well you begin to wonder judging from different primaries conducted by political parties as to whether we are making progress in the advancement of our democracy,” the Speaker said.

“Democracy is all about laws, it’s all about due process, about the rule of law. Therefore, the deeper your laws, the deeper your democracy. We can deepen our laws by deepening the interpretation of these laws to make them applicable to situations that may arise after the laws have been written. There are no better ways to deepen our democracy.

The Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16 while governorship and State Assembly elections will be conducted on Saturday, March, 2.

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