Jega Laments Lack of Internal Democracy Among Parties

Jega Laments Lack of Internal Democracy Among Parties

…says last minutes substitution of candidates worries INEC

Chris Steven, Abuja

Almost three months after the conduct of general elections in the country, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega yesterday said  lack of internal democracy in political parties and last-minute substitution of candidates are sources of worry to the Commission.

Professor  Jega who had series of running court cases before and after the 2015 general elections as a result of last-minute substitution of candidates, revealed that the party structure in many West African countries are firmer than what is obtainable in Nigeria.

Speaking in Abuja during a stakeholders conference on 2015 elections‎, organised by National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Jega who was represented by Professor Mohammed Kuna, a Commissioner in INEC, told participants at the conference to proffer solutions on how to entrench internal democracy in political parties.

He said: “In the Commission, we are worried about internal democracy in political parties. We have seen cases of substitution of candidates after the primaries. It is a serious problem for INEC. We had several cases in 2011 and the same thing happened in 2015.

“I think it is important that we look into it. If you look at political parties across West Africa, the party structures in many countries is better than what we have in Nigeria. We will share our experiences with other participants here in order to deepen democracy.”

Reacting to INEC’s position about the lack of internal democracy in political parties, chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council Mallam Yinusa Tanko, called for a total overhauling of the existing Electoral Act.

According to him, ‎stakeholders must sit and agree on certain areas of the Electoral Act where improvements and changes  are required.

Tanko said: “We have allowed political parties to be hijacked by individuals. When these individuals take o‎ver the structure of the party, they always decide who becomes who. We need to find a mechanism through which political parties will be public-owned institutions. With all due respect, we have improved over time and I believe we can get better.

“The only place where you can find true internal democracy are in the smaller political parties. These small parties are not owned by big men. The issue of substitution of candidates comes with Electoral Act. The Act gives a lot of rooms for a number of things.

“A case in study is Benue state, where people just jump into political parties and grab the tickets. INEC does not have the powers to effectively manage these things. We are calling for a total overhauling of the Electoral ‎Act. Now, we can all sit down and look at areas of improvements”