29th November, 2010
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has alerted Nigerians to a clandestine plan byÂ the National Assembly to smuggle into the Constitution of the Federal Republic ofÂ Nigeria the contentious amendment on the regulation of political parties by theÂ assembly, despite massive opposition to the amendment.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, AlhajiÂ Lai Mohammed, the party said the National Assembly has concluded plans to send theÂ amended Constitution containing the contentious regulation of party primaries, partyÂ congresses and conventions by the National Assembly to President Goodluck JonathanÂ for his assent this week in line with the court ruling to that effect.
“In what amounts to lawmaking by subterfuge, the National Assembly substitutedÂ Section 228 (a) and (b) of the Principal Act for a new Section 228 (a) and (b) thatÂ reads thus: Powers of the National Assembly with respect to Political Parties
(a) guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy within political parties,Â including making laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and partyÂ conventions; and
(b) the conferment on the Independent National Electoral Commission of powers as mayÂ appear to the National Assembly to be necessary or desirable for the purpose ofÂ enabling the Commission more effectively to ensure that political parties observeÂ the practices of internal democracy, including the fair and transparent conduct ofÂ party primaries, party congresses and party conventions
“What the National Assembly has done in effect now is far worse than what NigeriansÂ had cried out against. While the fear has been that the legislators were busyÂ amending the Electoral Act 2010 to serve their narrow and selfish interests, theyÂ have indeed over-reached themselves by now including this contentious issue in theÂ Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, unknown to Nigerians!
“If they succeed in cajoling President Jonathan to sign the amended Constitution, asÂ we learnt he may do since he and the National Assembly are said to have reached anÂ agreement to that effect, then our democracy is in trouble, as the National AssemblyÂ will simply turn political parties to its departments and push them around at will,Â in the name of making laws for the conduct of the partiesâ€™ affairs.
“Whereas a court of competent jurisdiction can strike out a law on the grounds thatÂ such law offends the Constitutional rights of an individual, no court can strike outÂ any Constitutional provision. In other words, if this provision is allowed to pass,Â there is no recourse for Nigerians in any court.
“To amend such a law will require the assent of two thirds majority of members ofÂ the National Assembly in addition to passing a simple majority of at least 24 stateÂ Houses of Assembly. Overturning such an amendment in a PDP-dominated assembly isÂ near impossible.
“That is why we have decided to cry out now so that all Nigerians can know what isÂ going on and how their representatives have been deceiving them, just to satisfyÂ their own narrow and selfish interest,â€™â€™ ACN said.
The party called on President Jonathan not to allow himself to be railroaded intoÂ signing into law any Constitutional Amendment that contains this democracy-killingÂ section. The President must stay on the side of Nigerians and act only in theÂ interest of the nationâ€™s democracy, not that of a increasingly egocentric andÂ narcissistic lawmakers.
“We also call on Nigerians to rise up in the defence of the democracy which theyÂ sacrificed so much to achieve, by prevailing on the National Assembly to immediatelyÂ drop this incredibly shocking amendment,â€™â€™ it said.