Mass defections turn Nigeria’s APC into minority party in Senate

first_imgNigeria’s ruling APC party splits in two Nigeria’s ruling party wins key state gubernatorial race Fifteen Nigerian senators quit the ruling All Progressives Congress party on Tuesday, making it a minority in parliament’s upper house and indicating worsening rifts in President Muhammadu Buhari’s political camp months ahead of an election.Fourteen of the 15 lawmakers went to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a letter read on the Senate floor stated. Another senator later left the ruling party while parliament was in session.The PDP, which was in power from the start of civilian rule in 1999 until Buhari took office in 2015, said in a tweet that 32 lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives, had also defected from the APC.The defections may make it harder for Buhari to push through his legislative agenda for the remainder of his first term, and follows the disclosure by a faction of Buhari’s ruling APC party this month that it no longer backs his government.Deepening divisions threaten to split support for Buhari within powerful patronage networks and among voters ahead of a presidential poll scheduled for February 2019 that will decide who runs Africa’s top oil producer.An APC spokesman declined to comment on the defections.Relations between Buhari, lawmakers and some members of his own party have been strained for months with fissures emerging in public over the last few weeks, resulting in the APC split earlier this month and the latest defections.Lawmakers in June issued a series of demands to Buhari including a call for an end to the “systematic harassment and humiliation by the executive of perceived political opponents.”The president’s supporters have previously rejected the accusations leveled against the 75-year-old former military ruler. Buhari said in April that he would seek another term. His candidacy depends on party approval, though that is usually considered to be a formality for the incumbent.Nigeria’s main opposition parties earlier this month agreed to form an alliance to field a joint candidate to contest next year’s presidential election.Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian vice president who left the APC late last year, remains the most high profile figure to leave the party. Abubakar told Reuters in May that he hopes to be the PDP’s presidential candidate.Relatedcenter_img Nigeria’s ruling All Progressive Congress party elects new leaderlast_img read more

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Decriminalising possession of small amounts of marijuana

first_imgRegards,Clinton UrlingSociety of Marijuana Advocates for Reform and Treatment (SMART) Dear Editor,The current legal regime, as contained in the “Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (control) Act”, against the possession of small amounts of marijuana, attempts to prevent a low quantum of harm to society at a very high cost. In other words, the costs imposed on the health care and welfare systems by marijuana use are negligible compared to the costs associated with enforcing current marijuana possession laws.Specifically, the provisions that mandate imprisonment as punishment are not appropriate in the circumstances. The societal interest in prohibiting marijuana possession must take into account, one the one hand, the burden that marijuana use imposes on the health care system, and, on the other, the costs incurred by society because of enforcing the current laws. A cursory observation shows that the costs imposed on the health care system by marijuana are negligible compared to the costs associated with enforcing the current imprisonment regime. While this opinion is based on observations, the State, via the Parliament, should fund and commission empirical studies to ascertain the extent of this, so as to be guided accordingly and act proportionately with respect to the penalties imposed.Additionally, it can be argued that the current laws stand in violation of the harm principle and civil liberties of individuals. As postulated by John Stuart Mill in his seminal work On Liberty: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” In this regard, a criminal sanction of imprisonment should be reserved for those whose conduct causes a risk of harm to others and infringes on the rights or freedoms of other individuals.  The choice of using marijuana is a strictly personal decision, because it is the individual who suffers the change in perception, mood and state of consciousness brought about by the use of marijuana. It is the individual who deals with the consequences of his or her decision, without disturbing or affecting the rest of society. This becomes more so admissible when taken together with the establishment of similar legislation as the recently signed Tobacco Control Bill that prohibits public smoking.It is time that our policymakers enact legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.last_img read more

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