By Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

T he Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Justice, Hon Razak Atunwa, yesterday defended the National Assembly’s decision to re-order the sequence of 2019 general elections.

Atunwa said that there was nothing unconstitutional about the decision of the National Assembly on the issue, but clarified that the re-ordering of election sequence was not targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari or any personality for that matter.

He said the idea was to separate the mandate of the people from that of the executive, State Assemblies and National Assembly.
Atunwa, who represents Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, bore his mind on the contentious issue while speaking with newsmen in Ilorin, Kwara state shortly after the disbursement of N60 million worth of empowerment materials to his constituents.
He argued that there was nothing sinister about the amendment to the election timetable as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) still has about one year to conduct the 2019 general elections.

Atunwa, a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, posited that the amendment was not new in the electoral process and that it was within the powers of the National Assembly. “There is nothing unconstitutional about amending Electoral Act; the Electoral Act itself was a creation of the National Assembly. The Electoral Act talks about more than seven orders within which to carry out certain activities for INEC.

“So, having an order for the general election is not unconstitutional; it is nothing new. It is well within the powers and the purview of the National Assembly, and we have done that. That is what we have. I don’t see why anyone should be crying foul over it. There is nothing unconstitutional about it.

“When you practice democracy, you learn from it. What we have learnt is that we need to separate the mandate of the people, so lumping together mandate of the people, as we have seen, hasn’t generated much accountability as possible.
“So, let the National Assembly have its mandate, let the State Assembly and the Governors have their mandate, let the President have his mandate. So, let’s know what the colour of the House of Representatives will be, let’s see what the colour of the Senate will be, let’s see what the colour of the Presidency, the governorship and the State House of Assembly will be.

“What we have effectively done is to separate the mandate so that we will know this is the colour of the Parliament and the colour of the executive. In America for example, we have the President being mayor of the party, then the majority either in the Senate or the Representatives, may be another party. It is good for our democracy.” Atunwa said.