by Ajadi Daniel
You recall that the Political Debates Commission Bill scaled through the second reading on the floor of the Senate in October 2016.
The bill seeks to establish a commission that would be responsible for the organization of debate for all candidates of registered political parties cleared by INEC to participate in election into the offices of the president and vice president of the country as well as governor and deputy governor of a state. The bill has since been referred to the Senate committee on Establishment and Public Service in collaboration with the Senate committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The bill seeks to legalize debates for Presidential and gubernatorial contestants; it means such contestant would now be mandated by law to participate in political debates perhaps before he can be eligible for election. The bill would institutionalize debates during elections, and the debates commission would serve as the organizer and regulator of debates.
But the question we still need to ask ourselves is what debates are we talking about here? Perhaps if we can answer the question in its fundamental nature, we then would be able to understand the efficacy of the political debates commission proposal.
I intend to put you in a reflective mood so that we can both critically consider this bill in all its ramification, but before I go on foraging on other questions, you might want to examine this latin legal dictum, Nemo judex Incausa Sua which means you cannot be a judge in your own case.
But here are some other questions begging for answers, Are there going to be other responsibilities for this commission apart from organizing debates? Should the state be directly involved in issues such as this to the point of having a commission to cater for it? What happens to the commission after the end of election? We probably have to wait for another four years to get them busy again while we keep wasting task payers’ money to maintain them! should candidates be compelled to go for debates? What is the cost efficacy of this commission? Why the state, why not organized media and civil society?
The Senate and us might need to critically consider these questions before passing this bill, because in the long run, not only the ends justify the means, even the means also justifies the ends.