Defection: Reps Seek To Prohibit President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governor

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The House of Representatives on resumption from its two-month recess is expected to commence debate on the general principles of a bill which seeks to prohibit defection of President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor from the party through which they were elected into office.

The private member bill sponsored by Hon. Kwewum Shawulu seeks to alter Sections 144(10) and 189(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) with a view to check incidents of defections, that is cross carpetings, or abandoning the political party that sponsored a President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor (as the case may be) for another political party, in the absence of a merger of political parties; division or factions within the sponsoring political party.

The proposed bill is coming on the heel of the recent defection of some incumbent State Governors and members of the Senate and House of Representatives from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressive Congress (APC).

In the bill by Hon Shawulu seeks to alter subsection (1) of Section 144 by adding subsection (c) to the existing paragraphs (a) and (b), which provides that: “The President or Vice President becomes a member of a political party other than that which sponsored him, before the expiration of the tenure for which he was elected.”

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The proponent of the bill also seeks the alteration of Section 144(1d) which provides that: “The President or Vice President whose election was sponsored by a political party both become a member of another political party before the expiration of the tenure for which thev were elected; provided that their membership of the latter political party is not as a result of the fact that the political party that sponsored him has merged with one or more political parties, or as a result of divisions or factions within the political party that sponsored them.”

Clause 5 of the proposed amendment also seeks to alter Section 144(1e) of the 1999 Constitution which provides that: “in the event that the President ceases to hold ‘office by reason of paragraphs (c ) and (d) of sub-section (1) of this Section, the Vice President who did not defect or cross carpet with the President, but remained in the political party that sponsored him, shall take over office as subsection (1) of Section 89 of the Principal Act is amended by adding a paragraph (c) to the existing paragraphs (a) and (b) thus: Section 189(c) ‘the Governor or Deputy Governor of a State becomes a member of a political party other than that which sponsored him, before the expiration of the tenure for which he was elected, provided that the political party that sponsored him has not merged with one or more political parties and there are no divisions or factions within the political party that sponsored him.

Hon. Shawulu observed that: “Presently only Legislators in the National and State Houses of Assemblies lose their seats if they decamp or cross over to other political parties.

The intention remains the need to improve and deepen democracy by strengthening the political parties.

“There is no doubting the fact that all through history political parties have remained the strongest pillars of democracy. They provide choices for people by professing and working through some Governing philosophies and help to educate people on different patterns of developments being proposed by the different political parties.

“Often regarded by political parties which sponsored them as leaders, Presidents, Governors cannot abandon their political parties and retain the seat that they were hard earned by the sponsoring political parties.

“There is, therefore, need to ensure that political parties retain their hold on the States or Governments that they have won. Fact is that under the President constitution you cannot run for that office without the party.

“The people vote for parties and that is why party symbols are used on ballot parties. Winners of elections by this logic are simply agents of the political parties

“It is important therefore that once an elected person, the President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy President abandons the position to which he was elected.

“It means that he/she no longer has confidence in the political party and does not share same ideologies or principles. Normal principled people ought not to be told to vacate such offices. This amend outlines the process of and procedures,” he noted.

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