Enough is Enough! Dear Nigerians this 2017 become politically active! (Part 3)
For the first two parts I have tried to show the need for political engagement among Nigerian youths, and devised various ways this can be achieved. This third part is the most important, of this entire epistle. This part is what makes the need of having the police and agberos on your side, important. This part is where the true “political engagement” I have been preaching about comes to play. Please do well to read the first two parts.
Chapter 2, section 14 of the 1999 constitution states:
The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:
a. sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
b. the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and
c. the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
Hence, the Nigerian people are the ultimate authority in the polity called Nigeria. No government can exist without the legitimacy of the people.
The words of Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg address: “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, are Yea and Amen!
We need to remember and understand the amount of power we have as Nigerians.
A member of the Senate or of the House Representatives (National Assembly) may be recalled as such a member if -
(a) there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member; and
(b) the petition is thereafter, in a referendum conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.
- Chapter 5, part 1 and 2, section 69 and 100 respectively, of the 1999 constitution
Herein lies our power! And this we must use to put the fear of God in our legislators. We only must control the legislators and they would control the executive for us.
We can setup an online platform which we would use to petition our legislators on issues we want them to address. We could call this “TheNigerianPeopleHaveSpoken.com”. The moment a petition is created and signed by one-ninth of the people from the federal constituency or the senatorial district in question, the senator or representative has 48 hours to draft a response and a timeline on how he or she intends to tackle this problem and how we the people would be updated on his or her progress. This platform would look like the “We the people” initiative by the Obama administration. The best part is that we do not have to do this from scratch as the Obama administration made the source code available on GitHub.
Tracka.ng is an online platform, created by the BudgIT, an “organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change”, used to track the situation of government projects in local communities. Hence, using Tracka.ng and we see something we do not like, we could petition our legislators on TheNigerianPeopleHaveSpoken.com to demand answers.
ShineYourEye.org can also be used to know all our representatives and legislators. Many of us do not know our representatives at the local or state level, talk less of the federal level. This must stop. It is our duty see beyond the facades of APC and PDP and know those who our representatives are.
Publicdata.ng, a volunteer driven project “with the aim of making data from government in Nigeria available in standard and easy to read forms for anyone to access, use and share”, could also be an important source in learning about the nation in socioeconomic and socio-political terms.
Now if our legislators do not do our bidding we setup the machinations for recalling such a legislator.
This is where things can get a bit dicey — I must say. The intrigues of Nigerian politics make the War of the five kings look like petty squabbles. Understanding the nature of Nigerian politics and the complexity in the recalling process as stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is important in order to successfully recall a legislator.
The INEC guidelines for recalling a legislator are damn to complex. Here, we would need lawyers to sift through the jargon.
But the following is observed on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the INEC website:
98. Q. Who can recall an elected member?
A member can be recalled by more than one half of the registered voters in the affected constituency.
99. Q. What can the electorate do if they are not satisfied with the performance of their representatives?
The electorate not satisfied with the performance of their representatives can file a petition to INEC for the recall of the representatives. The petition for recall must be signed by more than one half (50% + 1) of registered voters in that constituency and sent to the Commission for verification and further action.
100. Q. What are the steps involved in recalling a representative?
On receipt of a petition by the Chairman of the Commission for the recall of a member of National or State Assembly by more than one half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member, the Commission shall within ninety (90) days of the receipt of the petition ensure that:
The petition for recall presented is signed and arranged according to polling units, wards, LGA and constituency;
The Commission shall crosscheck that the signatories appear on the voter’s register;
The Commission shall notify the member sought to be recalled, stating the fact of the receipt of the petition for the recall of the member;
The Commission shall issue a public notice or announcement stating the date, time and location of verification;
The Commission shall verify the signatories to the petition at the designated location;
If more than one half (50% + 1) of the signatories are verified, the Commission goes ahead to conduct a referendum;
If the number verified is less than one half of the registered voters in that constituency, the Commission shall write to the petitioners stating that the petition did not meet the minimum requirements and is therefore dismissed
101.Q. What happens when the member is recalled?
The Chairman of the Commission is obliged to send the certificate of recall to the Presiding Officer/Speaker of the House to effect the recall.
To facilitate this process, our movement can create an online platform, which we could call recall.ng. Here we could gather signatures more quickly to achieve the “over 50%” INEC requires to begin the recalling process.
Till date, no Nigerian legislator has been recalled. An attempt to remove Hembadoon Amena, the representative of the Katsina-Ala West State Constituency in Benue State in 2013 was brought to a halt due to riots initiated by her alleged loyalists to stop the process. Therefore, I emphasize the need to get the agberos and the local police on our side. If not any attempt we make to recall a legislator may be impossible.
To pull this off successfully, we also need to be very organized. We would have a team of Lawyers responsible for handling the legal ramifications the recalling process. A team of data analysts, developer, graphic designers, programmers supporting recall.ng, TheNigerianPeopleHaveSpoken.com and other online activities. A team of financial savvy individuals who would be responsible for fundraising our projects. A team of community organizers, who would undertake our outdoor political activities, like establishing relationships with the NURTW, Area boys and local police men.
Thus, far we have been working separately, it is time to synergize efforts. For this movement to be successful we must make it as local as possible. Hence the power of university campuses strategically located in different communities around the country.
My dear young university student, forget about your VC and Dean, you have got larger fish to fry.
I hope like me you would find solace in the answer to the 100th question on INEC’s FAQ page: Can a Governor of a State or President of Nigeria be recalled?
No. In the case of a Governor or President, he/she can only be impeached by two thirds of the members of the House of Assembly and National Assembly respectively.
Ergo, it becomes easier to relieve a president or governor of his or her duties, once we have the legislature (National Assembly) by the balls, doing our bidding — as it was meant to be in the first place.
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