C’River South Politician Questions Validity of Nigerian Democracy, criticizes role of judiciary in electoral process

Reading Time: 2 minutes

…Arc Bassey E. Ndem calls for a re-evaluation of the country’s political system

A prominent Cross River South politician, HRH Etubom (Arc.) Bassey E. Ndem, has raised concerns about the legitimacy of Nigerian democracy, questioning the role of the judiciary in influencing electoral outcomes. In a recent speech made in Calabar at the Anniversary Town Hall Meeting themed: “Aligning the Cross River South Agenda with the Key Themes of the 2024 Budget for Rapid Economic Recovery and Growth”, Ndem argued that the current system empowers judges to overturn the will of the people, effectively making them the ultimate decision-makers in elections NEGROIDHAVEN can report.

Ndem specifically cited the recent legal challenges to the gubernatorial election in Cross River state, where the initial victory of Senator Bassey Edet Otu has being variously challenged in the Nigerian judiciary. He expressed frustration with the seemingly endless litigation process, which he argued ultimately undermines the democratic principle of majority rule.

“Are we practicing democracy or judgeocracy?” Ndem questioned, highlighting the disproportionate power held by unelected judges in determining the outcome of elections. He further criticized the exorbitant cost of elections, suggesting that the billions spent on INEC-organized polls could be better utilized for building a stronger opposition party and promoting constructive political engagement.

“My candid opinion is that we should re-envision our political environment, decide if we want to practice judgeocracy, and possibly stop wasting over N350 billion on the charade of INEC-organized elections; which count for nothing, since even INEC itself tells candidates to their faces at the end of it all to “go to court” and submit their political aspirations to the whims of judicial officers”, Ndem further suggested.

Continuing, the natural ruler said, “In re-envisioning our political environment and the future of our state and country, I must remind us that we are ostensibly still practicing democracy, described as “government by the people and for the people,” and a system in which “the majority has its way while the minority has its say.” We shall proceed with this discussion, bearing in mind those basic tenets.

“Cross River State has 18 local government areas (LGAs) in which the deployment of BVAS revealed some notable and even surprising outcomes. A total of 450,000 people made their choice in that election. While Candidate ‘A’ won 15 LGAs, Candidate ‘B’ won only in 3 LGAs. Applying the basic tenets earlier highlighted, one would expect that it was clear that the people had spoken, and the majority would have their way. But, alas, the wishes of the majority of 450,000 voters must still be subjected to those of 3, 5, or 7 “learned” persons, who have a set of rules that only they alone seem to be able to interpret. They have the final say on who the people’s choice will be, all based on arcane and capricious rules, which can change like the weather.

“Meanwhile, these 3, 5, or 7 persons are unelected officials who hold office for life, as it were, and yet have an overriding say on whom almost half a million people went out and stood in the scorching sun and unforgiving rain to decide in the exercise of their sacred franchise”.

Ndem’s comments have sparked a debate among political analysts and citizens, with many expressing similar concerns about the influence of the judiciary and the current state of Nigerian democracy. Some have called for a reform of the electoral system, while others advocate for increased voter education and participation to strengthen the democratic process.