Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Who gets elected first?

There may be a constitutional issue facing the government and the legislature in Nigeria. [See Nigeria's constitution (search for "electoral" to learn what powers the constitution gives to the Independent National Electoral Commission.)]

Why Nigeria’s battle over the order of the 2019 elections matters
As politicians start announcing their candidacies and parties begin devising their platforms ahead of Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, a few crucial details remain in the air. Due to a political tug of war in Abuja, it is still unclear when exactly voters will go to the ballot and in what order they will be held.

Nigerian polling place
In January, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released its election timetable. It announced that the presidential and National Assembly polls would be held on 16 February, with the governorship and state assembly elections to take place on 2 March. But in February, Nigeria’s National Assembly – comprised of the Senate and House of Representatives – passed a bill reordering the order of the votes…

A bill was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate, both of which are controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). But when it reached the desk of President Muhummadu Buhari in March, he refused to sign it into law. He warned that the act “may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC, to organise, undertake and supervise all elections”.

The episode has sparked plenty of legal arguments on both sides. Some say that the National Assembly’s attempts to influence the running of elections are unconstitutional. Others insist they are not overstepping the letter of the law.

Either way, this saga is not over. The National Assembly can overturn the president’s veto with a two-thirds majority and lawmakers have reportedly already begun this process. A date for the fateful vote is yet to be scheduled, but many are confident of its impending success.

“We will get it. We have the two-thirds majority already,” Senator Ben Murray-Bruce told African Arguments

The politicians behind the attempt to reorder the elections say the move will advance Nigeria’s democratic system. They argue that when the presidential poll is held first, subsequent elections are treated as far less important…

By reversing the order and building up to the presidential election, proponents suggest that people will exercise more judgment in picking their lower-level representatives…

Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, chair of the civil society organisation Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), for example, points out that lawmakers did not consult the electorate when trying to amend the electoral process. “This makes this move very suspicious and looks like it’s self-serving,” she says…

Aside from possible reordering of elections itself, this affair has highlighted ongoing tensions between Nigeria’s executive and legislative branches. Buhari’s first term has been dogged by disagreements with the National Assembly…

Whether or not they agree with the ordering of the election, many Nigerians are concerned at how these decisions are being made and, possibly, forced through. Rather than strengthening democracy, some worry that the fight over this bill is undermining political processes and weakening citizens’ faith in the system. Instead of empowering Nigerian citizens a year ahead of the elections, Akiyode-Afolabi warns that this ongoing and unfinished contest “is creating uncertainty in the polity and shaking the confidence of voters”.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home