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Zamfara, Like Rivers – By Arnold A. Alalibo

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | August 27, 2019 – As the judgment of the Supreme Court sacking all elected officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara State in the 2019 general election assumes the airs of welcome uniqueness in some quarters, the development has continued to generate negative echoes in others.
From whichever angle it is viewed, there are clear signs that the conduct of party primaries across all political parties in the country will never be business as usual. Following the judgment, the imposition of candidates for elections by political parties, identified as one of the major challenges in the Nigerian democratic process, seems to be over.
The judgment proclaimed “wasted” all votes garnered by the APC in the state. The court’s pronouncement is clear in words and implication: the ruling party was never on the ballot. Therefore, the PDP was declared the winner on the basis of the total votes cast excluding those earned by the APC.
By all odds this judgment had put the APC and the affected members in a daze. Notwithstanding their claim describing the development as an act of God, it was a bitter pill they had to swallow. But have politicians learned any lessons? Of course, Nigerian politicians are hard to deal with. Trust them, they must excogitate a way to cut corners in the next election circle.
What was the bone of contention in the Zamfara APC? It bordered on their party primaries which were characterised by gross irregularities. The entire process was said to be commandeered by the former governor, Abdulazeez Yari, who effectively sidelined the national working committee (NWC) of the APC and imposed his candidates on the party. No primaries held.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) intervened as part of its duty to ensure that political parties comply with guidelines for party primaries. Following the infraction, the electoral body resolved to deny the APC participation in the election.
However, a high court judgment reversed that decision and compelled INEC to relist the party on the ballot. The APC eventually took part in the election and won all elective positions available. But that was shortlived as the Court of Appeal in Sokoto State nullified the election of all the party’s candidates. Then the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision lately.
The apex court’s ruling will indeed alter the complexion of party primaries in the country. Primaries all over are held to strengthen democratic practices. Through the process, political parties assume the opportunity to elect candidates to represent them in an election. But since the advent of democratic rule in 1999, politicians and their godfathers have not permitted free primaries.
Zamfara’s situation was similar to that of Rivers State. Because of the orchestrated exclusion of Senator Magnus Abe’s faction of the APC from the primaries, the party was barred by the court from fielding any candidate in the 2019 election. That decision stood firm and Rivers’ APC was excluded from the general election.
Every democratic governance requires a free and fair electoral process to advance; this is achieved through party primaries. Therefore, all activities of political parties in that regard should adhere to party guidelines and the Electoral Act. Nigerian politicians must rescue themselves from the depths of desperation which brings about obvious disregard for their own party guidelines.
Our nation will be greatly imperilled if this practice continues in full strength and intensity. It is sad that public service has become a new line of approach for the promotion of self-service while impunity is now a national ideology.
A distinctive characteristic or attribute of internal democracy is when candidates emerge from the process approved by the constitution of the party and the electoral law of our country. Anything aside that suggests some imposition which smacks off abnormality, foreclosing any room for democracy to mature.
When imposition prevails, credible persons will be scared stiff from politics and this will create a dearth of essential and distinguished participants in the political space. Then the quality of governance will be deplored. That is exactly what we are faced with now.
Zamfara and Rivers States provide a veritable example of what can befall a state when greed for absolute power and wealth overwhelms public interest. Fortuitously, the Supreme Court has promptly stepped in to redefine the boundaries in favour of due process and rule of law. It is a bitter lesson that will serve both politicians and public officers.

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Posted by on Aug 27 2019. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, Rivers, State News, Zamfara. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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