OrderPaperToday- As Nigeria warms up for its 2019 general elections, pressure, tension and uncertainty hang in the air due to developments in the polity.
There appears to be a lot going on concerning who gets what and who becomes what in the political space, resulting in anger and tension amongst politicians vying for different positions in the upcoming elections.
It is no longer news that major political parties such as the All Progressive Congress (APC), People Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are guilty of substituting candidates.
Across several states, aggrieved party members and aspirants have been protesting against the alleged imposition of candidates, automatic tickets as well as a lack of justice and internal democracy in the just concluded primaries. This rings especially true for the APC where there is now a good number of aggrieved aspirants and stakeholders after the primary elections.
Whilst speaking to OrderPaper Nigeria on this development, Mrs. Rita Orji, a lawyer and member of the Federal House of Representatives from Lagos State (PDP) faulted the trend of substitution of candidates after primaries, under the guise of consensus.
According to her: “Consensus should be before primaries are held and not the other way round. For me, it is unacceptable that people waste time and resources to go into primaries where electoral empires and electoral panels are sent to witness the process then you wake up to say ‘consensus candidate.’ It negates the truthfulness and justice in the democratic process.
Speaking on the side of law she said: “The constitution allows for substitution or replacement of candidates by a party but under the circumstances when there’s an issue. It is a sad reality that candidates are at the mercy of political parties because our constitution doesn’t allow for independent candidature. What we have today is that mischief makers always look for a leeway to justify their ills. There’s no law giving the political parties the right to substitute persons who has duly won their primaries it is illegal. In Lagos State where I come from my party the PDP tried to substitute names of candidates who won their primaries but I stood my ground and opposed the move. In conducting consensus all candidates and stakeholders must be involved because you can not shave a person’s hair behind his back. You can not sit down in Ikeja and come up with a list of consensus candidates in Ajeromi local government.
She continued: “A situation where governors and party chairmen of political parties impose candidates against the generality of Nigerians has to stop if not we can not be seen as practing real democracy,” she warned.