…Speaks on How to end Off-season Governorship elections.
By: Ade Adeleke
The Senator representing Ondo central at the National Assembly, Niyi Adegbonmire, SAN has vowed that one of his visions is to see to the dualisation of Akure-Ondo-Ore highway because of its importance to motorists.
Similarly, Adegbonmire who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture Colleges and Institutions, declared that Off-season elections can only be stopped if there is an amendment to the electoral law to ensure election petitions litigations are concluded before the swearing-in of declared winners of polls.
Adegbonmire, stated this at a Media parley in Akure, the Ondo State capital, saying, 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 lamented the hardship travellers now faced on the road which serves as the only link to the Northern parts of the country from Lagos following the deplorable condition of other link roads.
The Federal lawmaker who said talks had begun on the dualisation project announced that rehabilitation works would soon begin on the Ore-Ondo-Akure road.
On the political situation in Ondo state and with regards to the 2024 governorship election, the Akure-born Senator appealed to journalists to always consider the peace of the state while reporting political events.
He said “You are all our friends, as we move into the electioneering period, I want to urge all to put the interest of the state first. The peacefulness of Ondo State is our responsibility.”
The Federal lawmaker who doubles as the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary Human Rights and Legal Matters, noted that the people of Ondo State relied so much on Journalists urging them to maintain balance in their reportage and relay only the facts at all times.
Adegbonmire promised to use his position to improve the lives of his constituents especially by attracting job opportunities to the youths.
He noted that, based on interpretation of Nigeria law, the National Assembly won’t pass a law to stop off-season elections in Nigeria.
He said there was need to bridge the time between party primaries and and elections to create more time for litigation
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.”
While highlighting the impact of election litigation on the political landscape in Nigeria said off-season elections will improve democracy in Nigeria.
“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.
“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.”
Senator Adegbonmire advocated that, “the one we need to be clear about and my position is that anyone that is removed by the court shouldn’t be recognised as having rule that state because he was never governor.
“However, the constitution recognises his actions while on power. Because if the constitution doesn’t recognise that, it is synonymous to saying the salaries he had paid workers, the contracts awarded are illegal and shouldn’t be recognised. That won’t be possible. It will be too much and there will be total chaos.”