Abeni Aso-Oke

The Erosion of Democracy: Partisan Appointments in INEC and the Senate’s Betrayal. By Chidi Ekeh

 

Abeni Aso-Oke

Abeni Aso-Oke

Introduction

In the annals of Nigeria’s Democratic history, certain events stand out as defining moments, either bolstering our faith in democracy or causing us to question its very essence. The recent appointment and confirmation of card-carrying members and loyalists of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fall squarely into the latter category. In a nation where the integrity of elections is paramount, these appointments have struck a grievous blow to our democratic ideals. In this scathing op-ed, we will decry these appointments and condemn the Senate’s role in this betrayal of our democracy, demand accountability, and commend the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) for its relentless pursuit of justice.

Abeni Aso-Oke

*The Unholy Alliance*

The appointment of APC members as RECs in INEC is not just a political maneuver; it is a blatant mockery of the principles that underpin our democracy. The very foundation of a democratic system is built on the notion of fairness, impartiality, and the strict separation of powers. These cardinal principles have been trampled upon with impunity, as loyalists of the ruling party are handed the keys to the electoral process, a process that should be impartial and beyond reproach.

The gravest sin committed in this debacle is the blatant disregard for the principle of neutrality. The INEC is supposed to be a non-partisan body, responsible for ensuring that elections are conducted fairly and transparently. By appointing individuals with clear affiliations to the APC, President Tinubu has struck a blow at the very heart of this impartiality. These appointments transform the INEC into a partisan tool, undermining the confidence of the opposition parties and the Nigerian electorate.

*Senate’s Complicity*

One might assume that the Senate, as the custodian of democratic values, would serve as a check and balance against such blatant disregard for democratic norms. However, the Senate’s role in this travesty is nothing short of complicity. The very institution entrusted with the protection of our democracy has, in fact, betrayed the people they were elected to serve.

The Senate’s confirmation of these partisan appointments is a betrayal of the trust of the Nigerian people. Instead of questioning the nominees’ affiliations and holding them to the highest standards of neutrality, the Senate has chosen to rubber-stamp President Tinubu’s decisions, undermining their own mandate and the very essence of democracy.

The deafening silence of the Senate in the face of these appointments speaks volumes. It is a testament to their willingness to put party loyalty above their responsibility to the people. Rather than acting as a bulwark against the erosion of democracy, they have become willing accomplices in its demise.

*A Demand for Accountability*
In the face of this glaring assault on the principles of democracy, it is imperative that we demand accountability. The government must be held responsible for its actions, and the people must make it clear that such appointments will not be tolerated. Accountability is not a matter of political affiliation; it is a matter of safeguarding the very foundation of our nation.

We must demand that the government adhere to the constitutional and legal requirements for the appointment of RECs. The Nigerian Constitution and electoral laws clearly stipulate the qualifications and criteria for the appointment of RECs, and these must be upheld. Age, integrity, and non-partisanship are the cornerstones of a successful REC. We must insist that these criteria are not just words on paper but standards that must be met without compromise.

*Praise for SERAP*

In this hour of darkness for our democracy, it is heartening to see organizations like SERAP standing up for the principles of justice, accountability, and the rule of law. SERAP’s decision to sue the Tinubu administration and the Senate over the partisan appointments in INEC is a beacon of hope in a sea of despair. It demonstrates the power of civil society in holding the government accountable for its actions.

SERAP’s actions are a testament to the resilience of civil society and the unwavering commitment to upholding the principles of democracy. They have taken a bold step in the pursuit of justice, and we must commend their dedication to ensuring that the right things are done.
Qualities of a Resident Electoral Commissioner

To restore the credibility and integrity of INEC, we must first understand the qualities and qualifications that a REC should possess. The appointment of RECs is not a matter of political patronage; it is a matter of national importance. To be a successful REC, an individual must meet the following criteria:

Age: A REC must be at least 40 years old. This requirement is in place to ensure that appointees have the necessary experience and maturity to handle the responsibilities of the position.

Integrity: The individual appointed as a REC must be of unquestionable integrity. This means they should have a track record of ethical conduct and a commitment to upholding the principles of democracy.

Non-partisanship: Perhaps the most crucial qualification is non-partisanship. A REC should not be a member of any registered political party. This is to prevent any conflict of interest and to ensure that the individual can carry out their duties with impartiality.

*Conclusion*

In conclusion, the appointment of APC members as RECs in INEC and the Senate’s confirmation of these appointments are dark days for Nigerian democracy. The erosion of the principles of fairness, impartiality, and neutrality in our electoral process is a threat to the very core of our nation.

We must demand accountability from our government and insist that they adhere to the constitutional and legal requirements for the appointment of RECs. The Nigerian people deserve an electoral commission that is beyond reproach, one that can conduct elections with integrity and transparency.

SERAP’s pursuit of justice is a glimmer of hope in these trying times. Their actions remind us that civil society can play a critical role in holding the government accountable and ensuring that the right things are done.

As we move forward, let us remember the qualities and qualifications that a REC should possess: age, integrity, and non-partisanship. These are not just words on paper; they are the standards that must be upheld to safeguard our democracy.

In the face of this assault on our democracy, we must be vengeful in our determination to restore the principles of fairness and impartiality. We must be angry at the betrayal of our trust by those who were meant to protect our democracy. Only then can we begin to rebuild the foundations of our nation and ensure that our democracy thrives.

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