A Deputy Director at INEC, Mr. Shehu Wahab who spoke at The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa) flagship programme, Nigerian Political Parties Discussion Series (NPPDS).
The INEC officer described this as a major setback the lack of internal democracy among the political parties.
The NPPDS seeks to promote healthy debate amongst leaders of political parties on national development issues ahead of the 2019 general elections. The theme for this edition of NPPDS is: Internal Party Democracy: Who Fares Better Among Political Parties in Nigeria?
Wahab noted that conducting a credible election is not the work of the electoral body alone but that of all.
He stressed that every stakeholder has a role to play to ensure that political parties conducts their activities transparently and openly for all to see.
He said, “Ensuring that Nigeria has a credible election is not the work of INEC alone, the truth is that people are not willing to play their own part and there is little INEC can do in that regard.”
Adding her voice, CDD Director, Ms. Idayat Hassan noted that the lack of internal party democracy is one of the most important challenges bedevilling Nigerian democracy.
“Since the advent of democracy, political parties are perceived to be governed by a select few often referred to as godfathers or godmothers, who decides who get what and influence the operations of party structure.
“The challenge of internal party democracy manifest in the decision-making processes within the party structure, candidate selection processes, party primaries and inclusion of Youth, Women and Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWD). This failure to democratise has not only weakened the party structure and its ability to institutionalize but is also partly responsible for the proliferation of political parties in the country,” she added.
Ms. Hassan said the essence of the vent was to start a discussion ahead of the 2019 elections on what political parties had to offer to the masses.
She said, “In the lead up to the 2019 elections, there has been lots of discontent in the polity about political parties and the option they represent to Nigerian voters. In line with our mandate as a platform to facilitate robust engagements on topical issues in the polity, CDD is organising this edition of NPPDS between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Party (APC) and other political parties in Nigeria to address the following questions
Also, Samuel Dabeng of Savana Centre for Democracy and Development said there is still a lot to be done by all the political parties in the area of internal democracy.
He said,”there is a lot to be done in the area of internal democracy. I think from the public response there is still have to address that. There seems to be some disagreement in the process of bringing out election and part of the things that is affecting democracy is the level of contribution or control of the political parties by some bigwigs, which I think other people should be allowed to have a say in the process.
” A lot still needed to be done to throw the political parties open to the people by making the processes of registering for membership accessible.” This he said should be a priority for the political parties if they really want to have a culture.
On the role of Money bags, he said “Parties looking for votes would always want to look for the most convenient way of getting their votes. I appeal to Nigerians not to accept their money, because if they do, they sell their right.”
On his part, Mr. Jaye Gaskiya a political analysts posited that lack of internal democracy remains a major gap in the country’s political process.
He said, “So it is a major gap really, so what today has shown is that one of the things we really need to pay attention to and immediately begin to address is the question of party reforms anc the only way parties can be reformed is by opening up their membership to Nigerians.
“Parties must be transparent. There is absolutely no reason why an ordinary Nigerian for example a researcher should not be able to access online the register of a party.
“You can protect it so that people should not be able to change what is there but people should be able to go online to say so this party has so many numbers of people, the percentage of women, the percentage of people with disability, the percentage of youth that are members of the party and the rest of that. Information like for example how is the party funded should be available. It should be able to tell us, for example dues and internal contribution contributed 50% of party resources in the previous year.
“We must move to that level, and then the next thing, citizens of Nigeria themselves we need to start sanction political parties. Why should you vote for political party that you cannot access, why should you vote for the candidates of parties you cannot access. So those are the things we need as citizens that we should begin to consider. But without that political cost, parties will not change.”