The lawmaker representing Ondo Central Senatorial District and Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Agriculture Colleges and Institutions, Adeniyi Adegbonmire, has declared that off-season elections must continue to happen in Nigeria to allow the votes of the people to count.
Adegbonmire, however, said there was need to bridge the time between party primaries and elections to create more time for litigation.
According to him, “Why don’t we abridge the time between primary and elections. We have a committee in the Senate that is looking at that and that’s one of the things I’ve advocated for. Abridge the time between primary and election and create more time for litigation. For example, if you do your primary in April, you must do election 90 days after primary, then you have six months for litigation because there will always be litigation. Some people will always feel aggrieved, rightly or wrongly.”
Adegbonmire, who doubles as the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary Human Rights and Legal Matters stated this while speaking with journalists in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
He said any society where leadership is installed by means other than holding the mandate of the people, is on its way to perdition.
Specifically, the only Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in the 10th Senate explained that, in a democracy, legitimacy is conferred through the electoral process and it is the candidate who garners the highest number of votes in an election who wins.
Adegbonmire noted that, based on interpretation of Nigeria law, the National Assembly won’t pass a law to stop off-season elections in Nigeria.
His words: “It is a constitutional matter and the supreme court has been clear about it. The constitution says, you shall be sworn it for a term of four years. That four years starts from the day you were sworn-in as a governor.
“The electoral Act says you must have 2/3 local governments majority votes but the constitution doesn’t stipulate that. So, there is a criteria for winning election and there is another criteria as to tenure. The tenure is in the constitution. Technically, it means that the man that occupies the seat before he was thrown out was not duly elected and was technically, never a governor.
“However, the constitution and the electoral act recognises that while he’s still, even if he’s removed at the tribunal, so there won’t be lacuna, he will continue to be governor, until the final decision.”
The lawmaker said, “But, if he was never a governor, according to the law, why should someone who should have been the governor govern for only the remaining years? So, it is a constitutional matter. For, we will always have off-season elections.”
“The other side of it is more dangerous. For instance, Mr A is declared governor but he rigged his way in, then he decides. And that is why they’ve limited the time which electoral matters must be concluded. Some people would have spent two years before their removal. Ngige spent two and half years, Governor Olusegun Agagu spent two years, Oyinlola spent almost four years.
“So, Mr ‘A’ will go and rig, then Mr ‘B’ who actually won the election will go to court, then Mr ‘A’ will use his influence to ensure that the case doesn’t see the light of the day or extended. He would have collected salaries, emoluments, granted privileges and honour of the office. So, Mr ‘B’ who actually won will now have one and half years to spend as governor?.
“How is that equitable? It is not equitable to the man but more importantly, it is not equitable to the people that voted. Because, what you are saying is that the people they voted is unable to deliver because he has only one and half years. So, the only reasonable thing is to say, he will start his tenure from the day he was sworn-in.”