Bill on Independent Candidacy for Elective Office Passes Second Reading

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Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday, after several debates, passed for second reading a bill which seeks to allow for independent candidacy to any elective office in Nigeria.

The proposed legislation titled: ‘Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999; to allow for Independent Candidacy to any Elective Office in Nigeria, and for Related Matters (HB. 754)’, was sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno.

Leading the debate, Monguno said the bill seeks to deepen the Nigerian democracy and give a level playing field for all Nigerians who want to contribute their quota to national and local development.

He argued that it is common knowledge that a country’s constitution should not be static, but that it should be a document that takes care of needs that may arise from time to time.

The lawmaker said views abound that few people who hijack political parties hinder those that have contrary views from theirs from expressing themselves politically on the platform of a political party, adding that the views necessitated the need to sponsor the bill.

Contributing in support of the bill, Hon. Sergius Ogun said as Nigeria practices a presidential system government, it would be democratically expedient to allow well-meaning Nigerians to avail themselves of the system where they can have an independent platform to contribute their patriotic quota.

On his part, Hon. Aminu Suleiman said the bill seeks to expand the political and personal rights of the people to function, which is devoid of imposition and interference of political godfathers.

He said the bill would also ensure emergence of the popular choice made by the people without imposition by political party structures.

Suleiman expressed optimism that the bill would enjoy speedy passage and assent of the president.

However, opposing the bill, Hon. James Faleke doubted the capacity of the Nigerian political system to accommodate everyone that may just wish to contest, as it would be enormous for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to handle as well as the resulting litigations that are bound to occur.

He called for a way where the guidelines of who qualifies as an independent candidate can be determined.

The bill was voted on, passed for second reading and referred to the Special Ad-Hoc Committee on the review of the constitution to accommodate all concerns and contributions.