It has sadly become a norm in Nigeria, for elected persons to ride on the trust and support of the electorate to achieve their dreams of serving the public in State House of Assemblies, and the National Assembly (which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives) as law makers, only for them to forget the campaign promises made, and act in manners almost akin to a godlike trait, which seemingly says to the public you cannot checkmate me or hold me accountable for my actions and inactions until the next electoral year, where the lawmaker would deploy tactics such as stomach infrastructure and false apologies all geared towards soothing the public, and Nigerians by nature have a short spanned memory and would forgive and re-elect the lawmaker, only for him or her to repeat the same circle again.
Some activists have trodden the path of demanding accountability from those who occupy public offices, such as that of the lawmakers, albeit with a wrong approach, for they express their grievances and waste resources in organizing rallies and protests, geared towards forcefully compelling the target of the protest or rallies to accede to their demands. This approach is a wrong one to apply, and also sees the conveyers or organizers of those rallies contravene the extant laws of the society, for the protests or rallies initiated on emotional sentiments have the capability of degenerating into violent scenes, which does the country no good. Libya, Iraq just to name a few countries, are living reference points to show that protests or revolutions solve nothing, except destroy.
This writer sef! The reader’s mind may wonder, You have condemned rallies, protests or revolutions? You have tagged them a wrong approach? You have reminded us that it might degenerate into a crisis? what then are you recommending we do?
Your thoughts need not float far, this writer recommends the resurrection and implementation of the recall process as provided for by the Constitution of the FRN and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
A recall process is a where voters or electorates exercise their god given unalienable right to recall a serving law maker before the end of his or her tenure, in the event that more than half of the registered voters of the law makers constituency lose their confidence in him or her. It is pertinent to note that the recall process is only applicable to lawmakers and councilors in an Area Council of the FCT as enshrined in sections 69, 110 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) respectively to the express exclusion of other arms of government.
A recall process is initiated in line with sections 69, 110 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) by the submission of a petition addressed and presented to the Chairman of INEC by the electorates of the lawmaker’s constituency, stating that they have lost confidence in the lawmaker representing their constituency. It is instructive to note that “loss of confidence” is not defined in the constitution, therefore the literal meaning of “loss of confidence” shall be applied. The Black’s Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition, at page 339, defined “confidence” as, “assured expectation; firm trust; faith”.
The petition shall be signed by at least 50% + 1 registered voter in the lawmaker’s constituency. For example, if there are 10,000 registered voters in the lawmaker’s constituency, at least 5,001 registered voters must sign the petition.
INEC shall then verify the validity of the signatures of the registered voters who signed the petition. Upon confirmation of the signatures authenticity, INEC shall conduct a referendum within 90 days of receiving the petition, which shall then result in the recall of the lawmaker by INEC if a simple majority of the registered voters in the lawmaker’s constituency vote “Yes” to recall the lawmaker, during the referendum.
For the purpose of clarity, I shall reproduce the provisions of sections 69, 110 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and section 116 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which are the same:
A member of the Senate or of the House Representatives or State House of Assembly or councilors in an Area Council of the FCT, may be recalled as such a member if
(a) there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member and which signatures are duly verified by the Independent National Electoral Commission; and
(b) the petition is thereafter approved, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.
I can understand if those willing to tow the path of a recall process, may feel that it is impossible to ascertain the exact number of registered voters in a given constituency. Your fear is wrongly placed, as section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 guarantees the right of any person to access or request information, without being mandated to demonstrate any specific interest in the information being applied for, and empowers the person requesting for the information right to institute proceedings in the Court to compel any public institution to comply with the provisions of the Act.
Therefore, all that the people leading the recall process need do is to apply to INEC for the certified true copy of the list of registered voters in that constituency. Upon receipt of the certified true copy of the list of registered voters, the recall process advocates can then begin the process of collating the required number of signatures.
It is my utmost belief that the utilization of information and solutions aforementioned, would enable those rallying the call for protest to steer clear of being on the wrong side of the law, and gather the necessary recall requirements. This I can safely state would drive home the point, within the confines of the law, and signify our Nation’s first step into holding its leadership accountable.
Written by Hussain O. Tijani LL. B; B.L; AICA, a Legal Practitioner and can be reached via email@example.com