Party Supremacy and National Assembly issues, By Hakeem Sotayo-Aro

By Post Nigeria June 30, 2015 20:51

Party Supremacy and National Assembly issues, By Hakeem Sotayo-Aro

There is no known academic concept of party supremacy, but it means party members must follow and abide by the decisions or instructions made by the executive committee or national working committee of the party. Party supremacy is however not absolute as the Party cannot instruct elected members on how to govern and who they must appoint. Party supremacy is also restricted where obeying party instructions will breach the Constitution, an act or a law.

In a parliamentary system of government the members of parliament elect their leaders (Speaker, Deputies and key officials) who must have been voted in as members of the parliament representing a particular constituency. Here the members themselves are the party and they are supreme. Electing a leader is usually non-partisan as members are free to support any candidate. There is usually no external interference.

In most presidential systems of government, members of parliament are usually required to elect their leaders (President, Speaker, deputies and key officials) immediately after the commencement of the Assembly.

In Nigeria, Section 50(1)(a)(b) clearly provides that members of the National Assembly shall elect their leaders from among themselves. The broad interpretation of this provision makes it clear that any external interference in the appointment of any leader of the National Assembly would be unconstitutional.

The proponents of Party supremacy are the unelected few. Who are these unelected few? Three major features are, very rich, grassroots following and must have held a powerful government portfolio. Their aim is to advance their own political interest which usually coincides with their party’s interest. These unelected few and their acolytes form the core of the administrative decision making body of a political party in Nigeria especially in a coalition such as APC.

Party supremacy does not apply to National Assembly matters, as any attempt to impose any decision on its elected members may conflict with the constitutional rights and duties of the members. The National Assembly is an independent entity and cannot be dictated to by an unelected few, any attempt to impose will usually lead to chaos, revolt and rebellion.

We have seen this happen during the PDP’s majority and now under the APC.

It is sad and disappointing that the APC has failed to learn from the mistakes of its predecessor and has acted worse. It is a bad omen for a party to publicly attempt to dictate to the Senate President and the Speaker on the appointment of key officials of the National Assembly as was done by the APC party chairman. The National Assembly symbolizes democracy as the members are elected mainly to represent the citizens in making laws and checking the executive arm. To allow an unelected few to dictate to the entire elected members of the National Assembly is to publicly endorse and re-introduce godfatherism, dictatorship and political undue influence into the Legislature.

A major point to note is that members of a party who have been elected into political offices should be seen as the party in fact. Unelected members are merely administrative officers and should not under any circumstances dictate to the elected members of the party. An unelected few do not have any legal or electoral ground to dictate appointments and nominations to the elected members. The reason is quite clear, elected members having been elected represent the citizens and they must act in the best interest of Nigerians.

The unelected members (the powerful ones) merely provided the platform and must trust the elected members to act in the best interest of Nigerians. Yes the electorate voted for the party but not for the unelected few as such we expect those we voted for to act freely without undue influence and in the best interest of Nigerians and not the party. Party supremacy should be restricted to the literary rules and regulation of the party.