The battle over the constitutionality of the mandatory minimum of 25 percent of the votes to be secured in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, before a presidential candidate can be declared the winner, has refused to go away.
Two legal practitioners, Femi Falana, and Adeyinka Kotoye, have expressed their views over a contentious constitutional issue as related to the just concluded presidential election while featuring on Boiling Point Arena, a popular online interview show.
To Falana, who cited two Court of Appeal determinations and another judgment of the Supreme Court, he was of the opinion that the Federal Capital Territory must be accorded state status as Nigeria’s 37th state, emphasising that this was why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) duly returned the APC candidate Bola Tinubu as the winner of the poll.
Falana noted that he had expressed his opinion on this matter also based on the Supreme Court ruling on the status of Abuja as far back as January earlier this year and therefore does not represent the current political trend.
His learned counterpart, Kotoye, disagreed very sharply. His contention is that going by various rulings of the highest court, the FCT should not have been treated as a state, insisting that for a candidate to win in a presidential election, he must win 25 percent of the votes in FCT.
Kotoye cited the leading judgment of the Supreme Court, where the FCT was argued to have a distinct existence different from that of any state.
For example, Kotoye argued that the FCT does not have a governor, no senator, and no house member representing it, while the ministers are only appointed by the president, so it stands logic on its head to accord it a state status.
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On the issue of whether INEC should have acted differently to halt the process and postpone the election or, most importantly, not to make a declaration when it was apparent that the process was already flawed, Kotoye nevertheless opined that someone has to be declared as President-elect “otherwise you will be inviting a constitutional crisis.”
Akinyemi, on his part, decried the low turnout in the presidential elections and its effects on the election. He said: “There is a downward trend in the figures recorded for the elections over the years. The apathy thrown up by the figures recorded for the 2023 election is a combination of several factors such as mistrust in the system, skepticism of the process, cash crunch/swap, closure of the universities, and fuel crisis.”
Akinyemi said that to achieve the desired results, efforts must be made to democratize powers at both regional and state levels.”
He stressed that one of the important benefits thrown up by the recent election is that myths of artificial structures and the National Assembly becoming the resting home for former governors have been rejected by the youth. He added that young people intervened decisively for the development of our country, and soon we will get it right.
“The people are tired of poverty and unemployment, but the political ruling class will continue to develop strategies to mess up the system while genuine progressive forces unite our people to continue to challenge the status quo. Our people will unite after the election. The crisis of poverty will help them to unite”, he stated.
The interactive interview session also featured a keynote address by a traditional ruler, Saka Matemilola, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom who also doubles as Chairman of the Boiling Point Council of Royals and Elders.
Boiling Point Arena, which has an incredibly large online following, is the brainchild of the initiator and convener, Ayo Arowojolu, a media professional with a 33-year, multi-faceted career spanning the media, banking, and education sectors.
Boiling Point is a news and general interest platform for informed discussions, viewpoints, and commentaries on governance and national development issues.
The platform comprises an array of eminent personalities, including over 200 professors, technocrats, industry leaders, High Court justices, traditional rulers, security top guns, media professionals, and several others.