The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle once declared in simple and plain terms that ‘law should govern’. Nothing else on earth can really accentuate the influence and authority of the rule of law more than those clear and understandable set of words. Little wonder will it suffice to surmise that those cluster of plain words of Aristotle visibly spurred Professor A.V Dicey, the late and renowned British jurist, to ignite and push the concept of the Rule of Law(Nomocracy) to the forefront of the 19th-century British society.
In a similar vein, this concept obviously abridges and places certain laudable constraints on the behaviour of government officials as well as the entire citizens of a geographical landscape. Also, should there exist a form of belittlement, the symbolic Mosiac has been charged with the natural impetus to apply the forces of her palm branch and sword on any individual irrespective of his economic status, religious creed, or political affiliation in cases where recommendable virtues and rejectable vices are brought under the microscope of her Fist of Justice. What better way can the concept of justice, fairness and equity be ensured in our society if not through the above-mentioned.
For some years now, I have been nurturing this perverse idea that the rule of law within the purview of Nigeria, is no more than a sheer demarcation between the rich and the poor—some sort of sophisticated machinations put in place to keep the poor masses at bay and victimize them at will. Why does the law conceivably applies stiffer measures against the poor vis-a-vis the rich, I often question my thought? In short, I would have loved to give so many instances, but I am glad that every Nigerian going through this piece is intelligent enough to isolate relevant cases relating to my claim.
With all amount of sincerity, this eccentric thought of mine has been confirmed of late by the unconstitutional deposition of the presidential candidates of both the All Progressives Congress(APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in the face of a so-called powerful watchdog whose bark can’t even scare away the presence of a political ‘criminal’ who at his disposal, has the capacity to break into the bank of our enshrined constitution, heist specific provision therein, make nonsense of it, break out of it, adjust his glittering Agbada, look sideways and walk away majestically as though nothing has happened. How bad is that!
Without any tinge of doubt, the job of the Independent Electoral Commission(INEC) is quite a finicky one. It requires so much dedication, caution and outstanding innovations to run its affairs. And that, INEC has well-proven, under the aegis of Prof Attahiru Jega.
Prof Jega’s position as INEC boss has seen the introduction of Permanent Voters’ Cards(PVCs) as part and parcel of the Nigerian electoral lineaments. This, no doubt, is one of the most competent ways to combat the issue of incessant electoral fraud in this part of the world. Also, there were reports that certain unscrupulous elements attempted hacking into the database of INEC—with the hope of cloning faux PVCs, but thank God they didn’t succeed,on account of the timely intervention of INEC to that effect.
Recently, INEC has also decided to seclude electoral activities in all crises-ridden areas in the North East. A very bad idea it may seem owing to the disenfranchisement ramifications such move will bring about in these affected states, but compared to the high level of insecurity in those states, I guess that move is a right step in the right direction.
However, I am not too comfortable with so many unconstitutional behaviour weakening our electoral laws while INEC does absolutely nothing but sit down and watch the flow of these ugly events like a quadriplegic toothless dog.
It is no news that INEC reserves the exclusive right to disqualify the candidature of any contestants in any political parties should they violate the sanctity of our electoral laws, but I can’t seem to fathom out why the same INEC has decided to keep mum on certain irregularities displaying themselves before its slumbering eyes.
The Peoples Democratic Party accrued a whooping sum of N21.27 billion for President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign funding. This is against Section 90 of INEC’s Electoral Acts which clearly warrants N1 billion as campaign funds for all presidential candidates. What action did INEC take in this regard? Nothing!
Also, the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Gen Muhamadu Buhari failed to submit a minimum of School Leaving Certificate to INEC which is obviously one of the core requirements for all contesting candidates for the 2015 presidential election come February 15. But what did he submit eventually? A controversial affidavit bearing a referral to the Secretary of the Nigerian Military Board! What did INEC do in this case? Nothing!
What about the scheduled date of November 16 for the commencement of party campaigns at the presidential level? What eventually happened? Some powerful political parties called INEC’s Electoral Acts bluff.
These are clear evidences of poor electoral policing on the part of INEC. Or should I cautiously say that INEC has decided to put into action, specific ‘axis’, between itself and certain politicos to attenuate the substance and strengths of our electoral constitution?
INEC should note that the law should neither be selective nor preferential in dispensing disciplinary actions against powerful individuals who, out of sheer wantonness, have decided to blatantly desecrate some sections of our electoral stipulations.
Where else in the world can high-profile political personalities so effectively reduce the power of the constitution to triviality if not Nigeria?! What sort of future, can we possibly say, does hold for a country where electoral laws are subjected to certain flagrant disregard? Why do we always choose to kill the body of our constitution and allow its spirit to wander about like some helpless sinner bound for eternal damnation?
Let’s get this straight: All electoral laws circumferencing the behaviour of every political candidate must strictly be adhered to whether they choose to accept it or not. Otherwise,what is the essence of the law then?!
Please let’s do what is right and right what we do.
God bless us and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.