by Baron Eloagu,
The Nigeria’s electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed serious concerns over lack of internal democracy in the political parties, describing it as the biggest challenge confronting Nigeria parties.
INEC’s Director of Election and Party Monitoring, Aminu Idris, made the disclosure at a workshop organised by West Minster Foundation for Democracy in collaboration with the Commission in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Director, however admitted that there has been progress in the development of political parties since 1999 till today, equipping that the dominance of one godfather is now a thing of the past.
Commenting on the trust of the workshop and the challenge of monitoring political parties, the INEC Director said: “The Commission in collaboration with West Minster Foundation for Democracy had commissioned Professor Jibrin to develop indices that can be used to monitor the political parties and which they can use to assess themselves.
“The assessment is to ensure that the political parties are playing the roles they are supposed to play like enhancing democracy and making it sustainable and buy in a social medium for governance.
“The biggest challenge facing INEC monitoring political party is lack of internal democracy whereby parties don’t allow members to fully participate in the activities of political parties in the policy and election of the candidates of the party.
“They have no input as to how the party is run. Lack of internal democracy is really one the biggest challenge facing INEC monitoring the political parties.
“In terms of sanctioning the parties, our role is to ensure that the parties are in compliance with their own constitution. We monitor their activities and ensure that such activities are in compliance with the provision of the party constitution and when we find fault, we often write letters, requesting that they comply. “Sometimes their members equally petition the Commission and we will look at the illegal implications and write them letters. I also have to say that there is progress in our party development since 1999 till today. The dominance of one godfather is now a thing of the past, ” he said.
The National Chairman Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Leonard Nzenwa, said that what will be the biggest takeaway would be to strategise and ensure that no political party chairman emerge as presidential candidate of its party.
“I think the political parties need to do a lot to broaden the scope and capacity of their functionaries to discharge their duties. For now, what we are trying to do is to elevate the status of IPAC as a body. The elevation is to ensure that every functionary of a political party has some level of capacity internally and externally to see how we can get membership.
“There is different between the structure and membership of a political party. The political parties are not well to do, and it is only when we have strong and healthy parties that we talk about a very strong democracy.
“The parties must ensure that the membership is broad by opening the space for all kinds of membership. The party should not by owned by an individual or hijacked by a cabal or particular group. Political parties should be regarded as a civic entity where anybody can come in and go out,” he noted.
Enumerating the hurdles facing political parties, he said: “Some of the challenges we have in the past is that people see political parties as their property, their business and that has led to a situation where somebody who claims to be party chairman is holding the party’s ticket as presidential candidate.
“Such is completely abhorrent and should not be encouraged. We are going to ensure that no political party in this country will field the chairman as presidential candidate.
“One of the greatest challenge is to find a way to raise resources to undertake the enormous responsibility and that is why we are,” he said.