2023 Presidential Election: Falana, Kotoye Wade in on Touted FCT 25% Votes
By Collins Mbakwe
A foremost legal practitioner and social rights crusader, Chief Femi Falana (SAN) and another legal icon, Adeyinka Kotoye (SAN), have waded in on the controversial matter regarding FCT 25% votes.
Recall that there has been battle over the constitutionality of the purported mandatory minimum 25% votes to be secured in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, before a presidential candidate can be declared winner.
The two lawyers featured on Boiling Point Arena , a popular online interview show which was also transmitted live by an Abeokuta-based radio station, Oodua 99.9FM.
To Falana who cited two Court of Appeal determinations and another judgement of the Supreme Court, he was of the opinion that the Federal Capital Territory must be accorded a state status as Nigeria’s 37th state, emphasising that that was why the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, duly returned the APC candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as winner of the poll.
Falana noted that he had expressed his opinion on the matter also based on the highest court ruling on the status of Abuja even as far back as January earlier in the year, and therefore did not represent the current political opinion trending.
His learned counterpart, Adeyinka Kotoye, disagreed very sharply.
His contention was 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% of 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 did not have a governor, no senator or House member representing it while the ministers were only appointed by the president.
He said it therefore stood logic on its head to accord it a state status.
On the issue of whether the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should have acted differently to halt the process and postpone the election or most importantly not make a declaration when it was apparent that the process was already flawed, Kotoye opined that someone had to be declared as President-elect “otherwise you will be inviting a constitutional crisis.”
Both Falana and Kotoye were Guest Speakers and Discussants alongside the Convener of the Apostolic Round Table, Dr Bolaji Akinyemi, during the Boiling Point Arena interview session which had as topic, The Fallouts of the 2023 Presidential Election and the Future of Nigeria.
Akinyemi decried the low turn-out during 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 as a way to achieve the desired results, efforts must be made to democratise 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 structure and National Assembly becoming the resting home for former governors have been rejected by the youths.
He added that young people intervened decisively towards the development of the country and soon we would get it right.
“The people are tired of poverty, unemployment but the political ruling class will continue to develop strategies to mess up the system. But genuine progressive forces should to continue to challenge the status quo. Our people will unite after election. The crisis of poverty will help them to unite,” he stated.
The interactive interview session also featured a keynote address by Oba Saka Matemilola, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, who also doubled as Chairman of the Boiling Point Council of Royals and Elders.
Boiling Point Arena which has an incredibly large online followership, is the brainchild of its Convener, Mr. Ayo Arowojolu, a media professional with 33 years multi-varied work 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 shots, media professionals and several others.