The House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, passed for second reading, a bill to allow independent candidates in the nation’s electoral system.
The bill sponsored by Tahir Mongunu seeks to amend the Nigerian Constitution to allow Nigerians to participate in elections without necessarily belonging to any political party.
Leading the debate on the bill, Mongunu said allowing Independent candidates will deepen the nation’s democratic space by giving the opportunity to Nigerians who want to participate in the governance of the country but are often shut out by godfathers.
He said political parties have often been hijacked by a few individuals, who dictate who should contest an election on the party platform, therefore, denying Nigerians the opportunity to actively participate in governance.
He said political parties are supposed to have manifestos, which spelled out their programmes for the people, adding that people with contrary views are often not allowed to contest, stressing that in view of the need to contribute to national development Independent candidates should be allowed.
In his contribution, Sergius Oguns, said experience in other countries suggests independent candidates have often contributed to the democratic process.
Mohammed Umar Jega said allowing Independent candidates to participate in the electoral process was the best approach to deepening the nation’s democracy.
He said in most parts of the country, aspirants are subjected to the whims of godfathers as many of the political parties are not ideologically based, but controlled by a few individuals who decide those to contest elections at a particular time.
He said as a result of this imposition, candidates elected by political parties are often removed by the courts and others imposed on the people because of the absence of transparency in the conduct of party affairs.
However, Abiodun Faleke, said it was not feasible at this point in time to allow independent candidate in the electoral system as it will increase the cost of elections and litigations, adding that INEC lacks the capacity to handle the issue of independent candidates.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said since it was an issue of a constitutional amendment, the Nigerian people will be allowed to decide through a public hearing and referred the bill to the constitutional amendment committee.