The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has said the most significant challenge confronting Nigeria political parties is the lack of internal democracy, which is worrisome.
The Commission’s Director of Election and Party Monitoring, Aminu Idris, stated this at a workshop organized by West Minster Foundation for Democracy in collaboration with the Commission in Abuja.
However, the Director acknowledged since 1999 till today; it has witnessed progress in the development of political parties, stating that one godfather’s dominance is now a thing of the past.
The INEC Director revealed that “The Commission in collaboration with West Minister 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 political parties’ activities in the policy and election of the party’s candidates.
“They have no input as to how the party is run. Lack of internal democracy is 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 from 1999 till today.
The dominance of one godfather is now a thing of the past, ” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council IPAC, Leonard Nzenwa, who spoke on the workshop’s sideline, said it would be good to strategize and ensure that no political party chairperson emerges as the presidential candidate of its party.
According to him, “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 ensures that every political party’s functionary has some level of capacity internally and externally to see how we can get a membership.
“There is a difference between the structure and membership of a political party. The political parties are not well to do, and it is when we have strong and healthy parties that we talk about a robust democracy.
“The parties must ensure that the membership is broad by opening the space for all kinds of membership. The party should not be 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.
Listing the hurdles faced by 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 a presidential candidate.
“Such is wholly disgusting and should not be encouraged. We will ensure that no political party in this country will field the chairman as a presidential candidate.
“One of the greatest challenges is to find a way to raise resources to undertake the enormous responsibility, and that is why we are,” he said.