Group urges political parties to strengthen internal democracy

July 4, 2019
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The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) a Civil Society group has urged political parties to pay more attention to strengthening their internal party democracy.

The group which made this known at a stakeholders roundtable on Thursday in Abuja, presented hard copies of its final report on the 2019 general elections with focus on key high points of the just concluded elections and came up with recommendations for the upcoming elections, especially those of Kogi and Bayelsa which will happen on the 16th of November this year.

According to the Ag. Executive Director of the CTA, Faith Nwadishi “We engaged political parties and encouraged them to look at their internal democracies, and be able to set for themselves rules that they can abide by.

“Post elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has returned over 80 Certificate of Return and more than 90% of those certificates were returned because of the shoddy party primaries that were held. We need political parties to continue to have conversations, maybe have an institute where they could be trained on how to select who their flag bearers would be.

“It is also important that they clean up their data base. We want to know who belongs where. Streamline your members and know who they are. What we observed on elections day is that we see somebody wearing a particular party tag (supposedly a party agent), but working against that same party.

“In India for instance, they have over 3,000 political parties. Not every political party should field a candidate at the national level; if your stronghold is in a particular ward or local government, then you should be seen in that local government. Parties should be seen in their areas of strength, ideologies, and programs.”

She further added: “For us at CTA we issued our report in April and we commended the Electoral Umpire in areas where they have done very well.

“For instance, looking at the entire electoral cycle starting from Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) till the day of the election, we saw that there were challenges that INEC itself had to overcome and still delivered the election in the way they delivered the election.

“We had issues with the interference by the security. We also had very serious concerns about the political class and the role that they play in the election. In our opinion, we feel that the political class being the overall beneficiary of an electoral process, should actually be the one at the forefront of making our elections better.

“In our commendation, we looked at role that INEC had to play within the Electoral Act of 2010 (as amended) – the framework with which they used in conducting the election. We also looked at the guidelines they issued that guided their work on the elections. We looked at the entire component of that and we didn’t fault INEC.”

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“The two major political parties have come up with their guidelines for party primaries. We expect that they adhere to that. Look at what happened to Zamfara and Rivers states because of the party itself, and not because of external interference.

“We need parties to go back to the drawing table; Kogi and Bayelsa is around the corner. If you have set rules and regulations for your members to follow, ensure they follow it to the letter. Make your party primaries transparent.

“For the people, it does not help to sell our vote. In the last elections, some people sold their votes for two sticks of biscuits and pure water. We need our people to realize that these cannot sustain them and guarantee their future,” she said.

The chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, said, “There are lessons that we have already learnt from the 2019 general elections. Those lessons have been warehoused and we also going to key in those lessons with the Kogi and Bayelsa elections. We also going to begin the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) the moment we are through with the review of the 2019 general elections.

“You know that Kogi and Bayelsa have had history of electoral violence; based on that, we are going to begin to talk to the key stakeholders in the electoral process in these two states.

“We are also going to speak with religious leaders, traditional rulers, members of labour movements, students’ movements, and all key stakeholders to make sure that at the end of the day we have a good election.

“We’ve had very good interactions with the security agencies, and they have assured us that we are going to have a new framework and engagement process that will ensure that every person who has been registered to vote goes to the polling unit to vote in an atmosphere of tranquility without any violence whatsoever.

“We are looking at all the recommendations; and those ones with administrative flavours, we are going to implement them and have a good election in Kogi and Bayelsa states.”

Security agencies like the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, NSCDC, FRSC, and the US Embassy pledged their commitment and continuous support to enhancing the electoral process with all it is tasked to do within the ambit of the law.

Issues deliberated on at the event includes – security, internal political party democracy, citizen’s participation and vote trading, electoral violence, the role of judiciary, and the role of INEC.

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