Prominent Senior Advocates of Nigeria yesterday at the weeken thumbed-up the recommendation of independent candidacy into the nation’s electoral process by the Senator Ken Nnamani-led Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee.
The 24-man committee was set up by the federal government in November last year while presenting its reports recommended among others, the introduction of independent candidacy during election. By independent candidacy, it means a candidate contesting for an election will not be a card carrying member of any party and that the issue of nominating candidates for election will no longer be the sole responsibility of a party as contained in the Electoral Act. Among the Senior Advocates of Nigeria, who threw their weight behind the recommendation are Ahmed Raji, Yusuf Ali and Sebastine Hon. According to the trio, the Nnamani-led committee’s recommendation would to a large extent curb the imposition of candidates by parties and at the same reduce corruption during elections if accepted. Responding, Ali said that the country was over ripe to have independent candidacy during elections.
He said:”We are over ripe as a country to have provision for independent candidacy in our elections. This is because the overbearing of the political parties is become abnormal and the only way to curb this is when individuals are allowed to participate without the endorsement of any political party.
“If independent candidates are allowed to participate in elections, it will greatly reduce the level of corruption that is seen and experienced during elections. So I support the recommendation for independent candidacy.” In his own reaction, Raji said that there was nothing bad with the country having independent candidates contesting during elections.
Raji said: “I believe there is nothing wrong about it especially in view of the undemocratic tendencies of some of the parties whereby either because of the use of money or personal interest, the real choice of the people is not allowed to emerge and thereby limiting the choice of the people.
“Perhaps, if there is room for independent candidacy, it will make the parties to sit up and feed good candidates.” Also supporting the recommendation, Hon said that there was nothing wrong in allowing independent candidates to participate in elections.
“Yes, there is nothing wrong with that, having it is not measured by the development, be it physical or economic or technological of any country. It is by the willingness of the people to enthrone sound democratic principles and ethos. “In this regard, the political parties have failed Nigerians so much that people don’t trust political parties much again apart from party members themselves.
And I dear say again that a good number of party members too don’t trust their parties. “A large number of Nigerians shy away from joining politics because of the stigma attached to activities of political parties. So, if independent candidacy is introduced into our electoral system, some other people will come up; who do not have affiliation with political parties, will throw themselves into the ring and we will have better results and representation.
I believe it is a sound recommendation and I go for it”, he stated. A senior law lecturer, Dr. Bitrus Egenti said it was a good development and urged the Federal Government to consider the recommendation. According to him, “the introduction of independent candidacy will be a good development to our electoral system as it will go a very long way to solve several electoral problems facing us as a country. “Political parties are in the habit of imposing candidates and this has caused a whole lot of damage to our electoral system.
If independent candidates are introduced, electorate will have the privilege of choosing who they want to vote for. “It will also create room for the best candidates to come out and contest. People who have vision will come out and the ticket will no longer be for the highest bidder as it is today.