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On the supremacy of the party over its members

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Tribune Online
On the supremacy of the party over its members

THE questions now are: On what forum do the Legislature and the Executive conduct their debate with a view to arriving at a consensus? And, in the event of an unresolvable disagreement between the two, which must have the final say? We must appeal to the Constitution for answers to these questions.

The first point to note is that, under our Constitution, the Legislature has the final say in the making of laws. By its enactments, it can, as the dictum goes, make A WOMAN, MAN, and vice versa. Indeed, in the language of the Statutes MASCULINE GENDER always includes the FEMININE, unless the contrary is expressly stated. It can be seen that subject to judicial intervention, the Legislature is absolute within its domain.

The second point to note is that, under the Constitution, the Executive has the final say in the implementation and execution of policies and programmes. To these ends, it has absolute charge over all the government’s administrative and executive personnel. It controls all the law-enforcement agencies as well as all the actual and potential instruments for demanding obeisance and for compelling compliance with any law. The Legislature has none of these things. It follows that, unless there is a meeting of minds at some stage between both the Legislature and the Executive, the former may make laws which are veritable dead letters from the moment of enactment, whilst the latter may find it almost impossible to give legal effect to its policies and programmes.

The third point to note is that our Constitution lays down ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’ which both the Legislature and the Executive are called upon strictly to observe in the exercise of their respective functions. It follows that, though each of the Legislature and the Executive has the final say in its allotted separate domain of powers, yet both are enjoined to pursue common goals in the best interest of the people they serve. As to social goals, therefore, there can be no disparate legislative or executive viewpoints. The touchstones for social objectives are already indisputably and inexorably laid down in Chapter II of our Constitution. But as to methods of attaining the common goals, there is plenty of room to manoeuvre, and hence for operational conflict and antithesis.

The fourth and final point to note is that, as regards the Legislature and the Executive our constitution recognises only a registered political party and not the individual members of the party.

Members of the legislature and the chief executive of any government are, in the first place, candidates of the registered political Parties; and, in the second place, in the case of those elected into the Legislature, enjoined by the Constitution, under pain of severe sanction, to remain loyal to the registered party which sponsored their election. It is the registered political party alone which has authority to canvass for them to be elected. And any member of the Legislature who changes his party allegiance, ipso facto, loses his seat in the Legislature.

At this juncture, it is apposite to observe that the new FEDECO whose activities, from its incipient ill-digested utterances, must be closely watched and quickly curbed where necessary, has called our attention to Section 37(b) of the Constitution. This Section recognises, by clear implication, an independent candidate. But the Section is otiose; because, in my considered view, it is cancelled out by Section 201, 202, and 209 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, one fundamental condition for the registration of a political party is that its: ‘programme as well as aims and objects … shall conform with the provisions of Chapter II of the Constitution…’ that is, the’ Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’. In other words, all political parties undertake to pursue aims identical to those in Chapter II of our Constitution, if elected into office. Whether or not all the five registered political parties are doing so now or not, is another matter. Because Chapter II is not enforceable in a Court of Law; the NPN, as chief defaulters, appear to be getting away with their blatant breach of faith with the electorate. It is comforting, however, that their fraudulent manipulations can only last till the next elections.

 

 

On the supremacy of the party over its members
Tribune Online

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