A Political pressure group led by high High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich (Egberipapa) in Rivers State has joined their voices on the issue of electoral amendment bill been rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari to sign it into law.
In a press conference in Port Harcourt Signed by the group leaders as sited, also condemned the double standard of the Rivers State Governor, Barr. E.N Wike.
The Statement as signed by the groups Secretary Hon. Ibiyekaribo Peters which reads “Network for Defence of Democracy and Good Governance wishes to add its voice to divergent opinions already expressed across board on the issue of electoral amendment bill currently being given consideration by the national assembly, after the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign it into law.
We therefore make the following observations:
- The double standard disposition of the executive governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike in calling out the federal government over President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the electoral amendment bill is worrisome.
- We are rather surprised that in one breath, Governor Wike had been dissipating energy lobbying other state governors to his side to fault the amendment of clause 87 of the electoral act which mandates political parties to use the direct mode of primaries in electing candidates for elections.
- The governor had threatened to challenge the Electoral Amendment bill in court if President Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law.
- He issued the threat while delivering his address at the special court session in Port to mark the beginning of the 2021-2022 Legal year.
- Then in another breath, to score a cheap political point, and in order to paint the picture of speaking for the interest of the ordinary Nigerian citizens, Governor Wike wasted no time in making a U-turn condemning and vilifying the federal government over President Buhari’s refusal to assent to the bill.
- In his interview on Channels Television’s Programme, Governor Wike said President Muhammadu Buhari does not have any excuse for not signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
- He argued that contrary to claims that the President is holding back due to the quagmire over direct and indirect primaries in the bill, the main issue that made the president withhold his assent was the issue of electronic transmission of results.
- The governor insisted that if Mr President meant well for the country and as he has promised Nigerians that he wants to conduct free and fair elections, then nothing stops him from accenting to the electoral amendment bill, and then seek an amendment as regards the direct/indirect mode of conducting the primaries of various political parties, just as was the case in the Petroleum Industry Bill.
- The NDDGG also listened with keen interest as the governor expressed dismay over the fact that “the leadership of the 9th National Assembly cannot put in the agenda of the two chambers that they will override, veto Mr President’s decline.
- According to the governor, the Assembly does not have people who are capable of looking the President in the eye and telling him the truth when he makes a wrong decision.
- He said the opinions he expressed were not on behalf of the PDP, but on behalf of Nigerians and that which is in their best interest.
- Convincing as this may sound, Nigerians ought to know better that the opinion expressed, just like the average Nigerian politician was done from the perspective of personal interest and nothing more.
- While the NDDGG is not holding brief for the APC led federal government on the subject matter, we however view the above reaction of the governor as a case of kettle calling the pot black.
- And as a watchdog organization, we join millions of Nigerians to insist that direct party primary is the way to go.
- If we want to get our democratic process right, there ought to be internal democracy practiced across all political parties where Nigerians should be able to decide who leads them at various levels.
- By implication, direct party primaries method will strip state governors the powers to usurp the entire process to hand pick their successors, secure candidacy to contest and retire to the senate when their tenure elapses or to handpick those to become lawmakers in the state assemblies.
- And thus, the sad reality and product of indirect party primary method is clearly evident in the existence of the crop of council chairmen in the helm of affairs in the local government areas of Rivers State, where development of the various LGAs under their watch is at a snail speed.
- The product of indirect party primary method is more evident in the existence of the crop of leadership and members of the 9th Rivers State House of Assembly.
- It is rather laughable that Governor Wike who has successfully transformed the Rivers State House of Assembly which is supposed to be a co-ordinate arm of government to oversight the activities of the executive, to becoming like a ministry or department under the state executive, is the same person accusing the national assembly of not being able to speak up when the executive does wrong.
- Without gainsaying, under the Wike led administration, the 9th Assembly is the weakest and most ineffective since the creation of Rivers state.
- An assembly that has completely lost its voice and essence, they have been cowed and reduced to mere rubber stamp in the hands of the executive.
- To the extent that Rivers State is better off operating two arms of government, as the existence and value of the state assembly is not felt by Rivers citizens who elected them as their representatives.
- An assembly that only exist to give speedy passage to executive bills and grant loan requests to the governor, but cannot question the financial expenditure of the executive, is a mere rubber stamp.
- An assembly that has never and can never question the wrong doings of the executive, but only exist on the beckon calls of the executive is merely a rubber stamp.
- An assembly that does not owe allegiance to the citizens of the state who elected them, rather to the state executive because of fear of losing their daily bread.
- An assembly that its members are seen to be performing their official functions mostly while escorting the governor to commission projects, is nothing but a mere rubber stamp.
- A case in point amongst several others, the 9th assembly’s hurried passage of the 2022 budget of the state within a week without subjecting it to any legislative process, is a mere rubber stamp assembly.
- If they claim otherwise, let them come up with proofs of media coverage of the budget defense sessions showing representatives of the various ministries, departments and agencies, as well as the presence of members of civil society and relevant stakeholders who witnessed and contributed to the entire exercise.
- As an organization, we believe that political parties adopting direct mode of primaries, as well as electronic transmission of election results are necessary tools to strengthening our democratic process.
- We are aware that the Senate is currently considering a decision over the matter to be made public in due time, however, their decision should not be informed by the sentiment expressed by Governor Wike because from all indications, his dealings in the state clearly contradicts his opinions expressed on the matter.
- To this end therefore, and irrespective of the excuse given by President Buhari on why he withheld his assent to the electoral amendment bill, NDDGG wishes to join its voice with that of other civil society groups, to urge the national assembly to override and veto Mr President’s decline for this bill to see the light of day, as that is in the best interest of Nigerians.
High Chief Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich
(Leader, Network for Defence of Democracy and Good Governance).
Chief Wosu Lord C.
Prof. Lawson Ihuigwe
Engr. Ibiwari George Dublin-Green
Bright O. Aleruchi
Dr. Blessing Chinda
Hon. Ndimele Lucky
Hon. Ibiyekaribo Peters – (Secretary)