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Politics of Automatic Ticket and Nigerian Fledgling Democracy By Joe Etokudor

There is a correlation between responsible political representation and prosperity of the represented all over the world. Put succinctly, the development of a people in any modern day democratic governance is a function of how well the people’s elected representative or political appointees at all levels of government respect the will of the people whose mandate they hold in trust. If the representative delivers on his campaign promises to at least 60 percent of the electorate I do not see anything wrong if the people decide to re-elect him or her for a second term, otherwise it is morally reprehensive and politically indefensible for a non-performing legislator to enjoy automatic ticket from his or her people.                                            

Regrettably, political development in the country is supporting automatic ticket for our law makers and State Governors across the country, whether they deliver on their campaign promises or not. For instance, not too long ago, the erstwhile senate President, David Mark, during an interactive session of the senate with National Chairman of PDP had canvassed for automatic ticket for all the 88 PDP Senators at the National Assembly when PDP held sway. He gave legislative stability in the hallowed house and deployment of experience acquired by the senators during their first tenure on the second tenure as reasons. How wrong? Stability and experience are virtues no doubt. But the truth is that our legislators’ love of the country is only seen in the wealth they amass from their country, not the wealth they can create for the represented. The arrogant subversion of democratic norms is against the principle of popular participation in governance and thus un-democratic. Automatic ticket, apart from fore closing the political ambition of others, also negates the philosophy behind the rule of law which guarantees freedom of choice which forms the bed rock of true democracy.

In the American system from where Nigeria copied the Presidential system of government, serving legislators are re-elected based on proof that they are service – driven during their first tenure. You must also pass the integrity test of the people before you are qualified for second term. In fairness, there are proven cases of performing senators. But to what extent have our honourable delivered on development and economic prosperity to their constituencies with the evidenced poverty, deprivation and despair in the land.

Some years ago, a sitting Senator, Nuhum Aliyu stirred the hornets’ nest when he courageously challenged his colleagues alleging that they were all corrupt and insensitive to the service of their people. Although he recanted his statement because was anti-establishment, he nevertheless made his point. That is our law makers for you! Even the spate of decamping among the Governors and Legislators across the country ostensibly to be in the main stream of national politics but invariably to secure automatic tickets even when they did not serve their people creditably.

This blatant campaign for unconstitutional legislative tenure-elongation in the various legislatures across the country and decamping among the Governors and Legislators is regrettable as it is uninspiring in the on-going democratization process of the Nigerian nation.  Facts in the public domain are that most of the Legislators are mere bench- warmers and sitting-allowance collectors who have out lived their stay as law-makers and therefore cannot enjoy an automatic ticket.

Finally, it is the conviction of this writer that an impact assessment mechanism aimed at rating the performance of the legislators and even Governors should be initiated by all the existing political parties in the country. Those who scale through the evaluation test should be allowed to contest for second term.

Otherwise, other Nigerians should be given opportunity to realize their political ambition and aspirations. This, for me should be the basis for automatic ticket.


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