Thursday, July 16, 2009

PDP and Automatic Tickets

The subtle campaign by some PDP federal legislators for automatic re-nomination for the 2011 general election is hardly lost on Nigerians despite attempts to deny it. The campaign re-echoes a similar attempt by the party’s governors in 2003 to enjoy automatic re-nomination regardless of their performance in office.
Morally and politically, the campaign is unjustifiable and therefore offensive. Office holders are supposed to swim or sink on the basis of their performance. Automatic re-nomination flies in the face of this age-old principle. It is self-serving for the incumbent to seek to shut out rivals even when their performance is highly questionable.
It was therefore reassuring to read that the PDP has rejected such an idea. That is a move that is bound to engender healthy political competition.
The argument about continuity may be right but continuity must be earned not imposed, and must not be in disregard of a lawmaker’s performance. National Assembly members who would like to continue beyond one term in office must try to distinguish themselves as is the practice in older democracies.
True, we know of American Congressmen and Senators who have been in office for three decades and more. But they are not there simply because their parties wanted continuity but rather because they have worked so hard to earn the respect of the voters in their various constituencies.
It is important to remind ourselves that in a democracy, the ultimate power lies with the voters, not with the party leaders who may prefer to impose certain candidates however unpopular they may be. This must be avoided for the sake of fair play. Law makers who want to be re-nominated and subsequently re-elected must work hard to endear themselves not just to the party leaders but more importantly to the voters. There should be no short cut.
The way it is, we do not think there is any justifiable basis for automatic re-nomination of any legislator.
The field should be open to all. Rather than thinking of how to return en mass to the chambers of the National Assembly, PDP legislators should busy themselves with how to make laws that will impact positively on the well-being of Nigerians. So far Nigerians are yet to see any such inclination in their federal legislators.
The public is concerned that in more than two years, the law makers have not been able to pass enough bills to match the urgency of the many challenges the nation is facing and the billions of Naira spent on maintaining them at taxpayers’ expense. We do not see how such a poor legislative record could earn them automatic re-nomination.
In the run-up to the 2011 general election, the PDP and indeed all the parties should adopt a nomination process that will reward only the competent and productive. The idea of automatic re-nomination should be discarded. It is inconsistent with the democratic culture of letting the best serve at the pleasure of the voters. Any legislator who desires to be re-nominated for election should begin to work to earn such an honour. Right now we do not think that many who are angling for it deserve it.