Leading Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have warned that the crises rocking political parties in the country and their inability to ensure internal democracy will negatively affect people’s choices in the forthcoming 2023 general election.
They noted that until Nigerians insist on political party reforms that would entrench transparency, accountability and internal democracy, the wrangling within the parties will affect people’s choices.
The CSOs sounded that warning against the backdrop infighting and leadership crises in the major political parties in the country.
According to them, if political parties cannot be democratic, there is no way they would be democratic when they take over power.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP Sunday, the executive director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Faith Nwadishi, who carried out a research on how political parties are run in Nigeria, said the political gatherings don’t follow their party constitutions.
Describing the situation as unfortunate, Nwadishi said, “The way opposition is run in Nigeria is unlike what is happening
elsewhere. With 18 registered political parties in Nigeria, we are
supposed to have 17 opposition political parties but because of the issues around the internal wrangling in parties – personal interest above national interest, personal benefit above the unity of the country, most of these political parties are tearing themselves apart.
“I checked the issue of internal democracy and how it affects the running of political parties. I decided to look at the constitution of four political parties in the country, the PDP, APC, APGA and YPP, and there are a lot of things in their constitutions that they are not even following up with.
“You have party members who don’t understand what is in their constitutions and then they want to run things. That’s why you see politicians running from one political party in the morning and in the afternoon they are running back to the same political party.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have that strong opposition and so members are allowed to do whatever they are doing without opposition. The opposition is supposed to have a blueprint, such that they are proactive to the direction of the government. Once the government in power is not doing the right thing, they (opposition) come up with other alternative solutions or suggestions but we are not seeing that.
Look at the Anambra election that is coming up. One political party is having over 30 cases in court and you ask yourself to what extent. They are not in court against the ruling party because they are not doing well. We don’t have opposition in the country”.
Also, the director, Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, said lack of internal democracy in political parties is responsible for all the challenges in the country.
“The parties themselves are not democratic. Each time we look at these parties and their members they are just busy struggling about who gets what.
“When parties cannot follow their own rules, when parties cannot be democratic, how can they be democratic? And it tells you one thing that unless we reform the party system to an extent that they become institutionalised, it becomes very difficult for us to enjoy the dividend of democracy,” Idayat stated.
Hassan further cautioned that if given the mandate, the same people that hijacked the parties would eventually hijack the government.
“The wrangling in the opposition parties shows clearly that there is no opposition. Strong alternative for the 2023 election is fast disappearing. Even the APC is also struggling with its problems,” she said.
Also, the executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, said it is clear that there is no constructive opposition in Nigeria.
He said, “The parties have no clear policy on constructive opposition and ideas on how to govern. It is all about commercial interest. Not people centered development which has been the major aspect the political parties should have been working on.
“From what we are seeing, it is very clear that the current political parties don’t care about the state. It is a big concern that neither PDP nor APC has constructive political views on issues that affect governance in Nigeria. They are seen as just cash and carry without a good manifesto,” Rafsanjani said.
He the instability in the political parties is the reason they are advocating for total political party reform in Nigeria.
He noted: “Political parties remain the only platform where people can aspire to contest election in Nigeria because we don’t have provision for the independent candidature which means that we need to ensure political parties are reformed to ensure that there is maximum political participation, accountability as well as idea on responsive governance, and not just to negotiate and take power and decamp.
“That is why there is so much destruction because political parties are only interested in capturing power without making use of the power for good governance. In fact, some politicians are using political parties for their personal interest. If they are elected under a political party’s platform, without recourse and without any issue, they just decamp. This shows lack of ideology, lack of focus, lack of policy direction and it is just a platform for collecting positions and self-aggrandizement,” he added.
It Is Left For Nigerians To Choose Wisely – Political Parties
But the spokesman of the umbrella body of all political parties in Nigeria, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Major Agbo, said that Nigerians should see the crisis in some of the political parties as an opportunity for them to choose wisely.
“We should be careful to accept those who have skeletons in their cupboards. But we will accept the clean ones. It is now left for Nigerians to decide whether they will want to continue with this kind of people or they will support political parties with a clean atmosphere.
“The electorates have the final say. It is an opportunity for them to choose whether they will want to continue with people that have destroyed the country or they will want to toe another line in order to bring relief to Nigeria. We have been speaking with Nigerians on moral perspective because it is not right for us to continue the way the country is going and I think it is working,” Agbo noted.
He however pointed out that it is not most of the political parties that are in crisis as there are quite a number of political parties that are experiencing relative peace.
“I can mention APM and the rest of them are in peace. Like I always say, if God wants to disarm you, he allows you to destroy yourself. That is what is happening with the APC and the PDP. They have played with the intelligence of Nigerians for too long. Having cheated Nigerians for too long, a time to repay is now and that is why they are in crisis”, he added.
Agbo who acknowledged the crisis in the political parties, said other opposition parties were enjoying the drama.
He said, “For us, in the other opposition parties, we are enjoying the drama, especially in the PDP and APC because our belief is that God has found reason in favour of Nigerians. What we expect from these crises is for Nigerians to join other political parties and see how we can develop other platforms.”
Another Party Bars Secondus As PDP Governors Warn Against Division Ahead 2023
Meanwhile, a High Court order in Cross River State has barred the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, from parading himself as chairman.
This is just as governors elected under the party’s platform warned yesterday that the party risks losing the 2023 presidential election if it remains divided.
Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, who stated this yesterday during the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party in Abuja, likened the 2023 polls to warfare, adding that Nigerians are looking forward to PDP and that the party cannot afford to fail them.
NEC, at its meeting, approved the October 30 national convention to hold in Abuja.
The injunction granted by the high court in Cross River also barred the PDP from allowing Secondus to function as national chairman or to preside over the NEC meeting of the party.
The interim order was issued by the court presided over by Justice Edem Kufre on Friday following an application brought by a member of the party, Enang Wani, ahead of the PDP NEC.
At NEC meeting yesterday, Secondus issued a letter to the acting national chairman of the party, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, saying, “I hereby request you to preside over the National Executive Committee meeting of the Party, taking place today, 28th August, 2021@ 12 noon, in my absence.”
But speaking during the NEC meeting, Tambuwal, said, “With reference to the issues of the moment; challenges, disputes and disagreements are part of life, and indeed, politics. But what is important is how they are resolved. We have activated all mechanisms that we have in PDP, to resolve all of our issues.
“And as the chairman of PDP said, I concur. We shall continue to hold together, remain together because we are the hope of the people of Nigeria and Nigerians are looking forward to PDP and we cannot afford to fail them.
“The challenges are quite many and it’s important for us to continue to work together as a family. We are going into warfare and we must go to a warfare united, you cannot win if you are divided. So let’s not lose hope. We must remain focused with our eyes on the ball. And we shall, by the grace of God, score that goal.”
But the acting national chairman, Akinwonmi, said the series of interventions by party leaders were yielding results.
He stated: “I am pleased to announce to you all that those interventions are yielding desired results. Let me say a clear list that Nigerians are looking out to PDP to salvage this country from the backwardness that the A PC-led federal government has plunged the country into.
“Nigeria is more than ever divided. The insecurity is so worsening that even military installations are not immune. Our people can no longer go to the farm, our women are being raped, and schools are the target of kidnappers, bandits and terrorists. The level of unemployment keeps on rising, while the value of Naira is now at the lowest ebb. Of course naira is the worst of all countries’ currencies in Africa, the sub region today. We have never had it so bad like this. We must resist every attempt to sow disunity within our rank but to work together to salvage the country.”
Speaking also, former vice president and the party’s 2019 presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, stated that PDP still has the experience and capacity to resolve it’s crisis unlike the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“If you look at PDP, it has the most experienced people in this country, whether in the executive wing, whether in the legislature, or in party administration. We have the most experienced and most competent individuals in this party.
“Therefore, PDP internal crisis management is far more efficient and far better than APC and the APC government itself. So I want to use this opportunity to commend and thank everybody who has been involved in trying to resolve the recent crisis. And Nigerians should no longer be in doubt of our sense of patriotism, and our sense of commitment to get this country moving again.
“We are being taken aback by the APC government and we have shown to Nigerians that when we are trusted again we will do even much better than we had done before.”
The Senate minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, on his part, pledged the support of the National Assembly members of the party, saying recent events show that there is no crack in the PDP.
“As we were coming yesterday, I think we’ve seen from the news that there were alternate chairman, deputies and all that. But today, I think it’s clear to everyone that PDP is one and we’re moving forward. I want to thank our chairman of the governor’s forum for assuring us that PDP will take over the government in 2023. Nigerians are looking for us.
“Nigerians are tired of that party that doesn’t even have a board of trustees, not to talk of any other organ of the party. Nigeria’s are tired of the party that is looking for a word to gag you, the press, in an interview that was done that showed clearly how things are going bad in this country, and people are being summoned to answer queries at the NBC, which has never happened in this country. And so PDP is coming, Nigerians wait for PDP, and in 2023 give us your votes and will we deliver you back to where we came from.”
Disclosing the resolution of the NEC meeting, the national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “NEC has resolved that Abuja will be the venue of the PDP National Elective Convention slated for October 31, 2021.
“NEC will meet on the 9th of September to approve the various nominations into the respective national convention committees.
“NEC condemns the media gagging and the attempt by the APC and Buhari government to promote obnoxious laws against the freedom of speech as well as media practice 1n Nigeria.
“NEC condemns the harassment and intimidation of media outfits in a desperate ploy by the APC to stifle free speech.”
Ologbondiyan noted that NEC emphasised the indivisibility of PDP and stressed the need to remain united as a party just as it works assiduously towards removing the APC from government in 2023.
I Have Not Stepped Down As PDP National Chairman – Secondus
But the embattled national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, insisted yesterday that he did not step down.
Secondus, who noted that his tenure ends in December this year, said his absence from the NEC meeting was in adherence to the Calabar court order.
A statement from his media office signed by Ike Abonyi noted that news circulating that Secondus had stepped down as the national chairman of PDP was not true.
“Prince Secondus by his unavoidable absence at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on yesterday, he was merely obeying an interim order from Cross River state High Court, and as a law abiding citizen who has been an adherent of rule of law as a basis for democracy stayed away in respect for the courts.
“Prince Secondus’ four year mandate to lead the party given on December 10, 2017 ends by December, 2021.
“By this release, the media office wishes to urge media houses and members of the public, particularly beloved members of PDP to disregard any news suggesting that he has stepped down,” Abonyi said.