or its first broadcast in 2022, IDEAs Radio was glad to have legal affairs journalist and activist, Richard Akinnola as our guest to discuss some of the matters that are scheduled to come up in 2022, and what IDEAs issues they may raise.
The first issue Richard discussed with Ayo was the President’s veto of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which will have a major impact on Democracy in Nigeria and the Integrity of elections in the country. Richard expressed regret that the National Assembly had not been able to muster the votes to override the President’s veto, but in response to Ayo’s suggestion that reports that enough Senators were said to have signed a letter pledging to override the President’s veto raised questions about the Ethics of the lawmakers in the upper house, Richard said that he had never believed that they had those numbers. He was of the view that the issue ought never to have arisen at all given that the President’s Party, the All Progressives Congress was in the majority in both houses of the National Assembly, saying that it ought to have been discussed and resolved with the Executive before now.
Richard said that it was essential for the Bill to be signed into law because it would have an impact on the off-cycle gubernatorial elections coming up in Ekiti and Osun states, particularly as Ekiti State must have chosen its candidates for the gubernatorial election there by the end of January 2022. Ayo suggested that the rest of the election could still be conducted under the Amended Act if it had been enacted even after the selection of candidates, but Richard said that the uncertainty was likely to affect the Independent National Electoral Commission’s ability to prepare for those elections.
Richard and Ayo hoped that if the President were to keep to the statements he had made in interviews during the week that he would sign the Bill if choice was restored on the issue of how political parties select their candidates, as the amendment would improve the Integrity of Nigeria’s elections, and went on to discuss the general run up to the 2023 elections.
Another matter on the calendar for 2022 was the expected increase in the price of petrol scheduled for June. Richard said that the issue of fuel subsidy had been on the agenda for many years, but that there was a serious Accountability problem because there was no clarity about the amount of subsidy. He agreed that the fact that the Federal Government was still talking about subsidy when last year at the time when the international price of petrol had fallen, it had claimed that it was removing fuel subsidy raised questions about its Integrity on the matter.
Ayo referred to the situation in Kazakhstan where opposition to a rise in the price of fuel had led to violence, and asked Richard what role the Nigeria Labour Congress, which had declared that it would be holding demonstrations against the planned price rise, had the Integrity to lead the reaction of Nigerians on the matter. He said that unfortunately the NLC no longer had the reputation to lead the Nigerian people on such matters, as people no longer had confidence in the NLC. Ayo remarked that the NLC had not been allowed to have a hand in the #EndSARS demonstrations, and speculated whether the NLC’s declaration that it would lead protests on the issue might be a way of trying to take control of any reactions to the price rise, but Richard doubted that the NLC would be allowed to play such a role, citing its history of leading one or two days of protests on such matters and then calling them off under guise of going into negotiations with the government; this was why it had been kept away from the #EndSARS protests.
Do you agree that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill needs to be enacted for Nigerians to enjoy Integrity in their Democratic process? Are you satisfied with the government’s Accountability over the whole fuel subsidy issue, and do you trust the Nigeria Labour Congress to articulate the views of Nigerians and their response on the matter? What other issues do you think are likely to raise IDEAs issues in 2022? How do you think that considering IDEAs issues may have an impact on those issues? We’d love to have you join the conversation and let us know what you think.