A major drawback affecting the visibility, effectiveness and supremacy of the political parties in Nigeria today is their inability to self-finance their activities and be independent of wealthy aspirants who indirectly exercise control through their resources. The experts from diverse backgrounds, including the political class, made the observation while interacting at a three-day workshop this
A major drawback affecting the visibility, effectiveness and supremacy of the political parties in Nigeria today is their inability to self-finance their activities and be independent of wealthy aspirants who indirectly exercise control through their resources.
The experts from diverse backgrounds, including the political class, made the observation while interacting at a three-day workshop this week, organized by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) with the theme: Stakeholders Engagement on the Transparency of the Electoral System. They also bemoaned the absence of self-sustaining strategies by political parties, thereby putting them at the mercy of some rich aspirants.
While some of the experts blamed the perceived shortcoming on funding and consequently appealed to government and INEC to reconsider the issue of giving subventions to the political parties; others felt it was imperative for the political parties to put on their thinking caps, by reshaping their structure and strategies. A political chieftain further admonished the political parties to ensure that they follow their processes and rules in the election process.
Giving an opening remark, the Acting Director General of NIPSS represented by Professor Pam Dung Sha, its Director of Research, said a study conducted by its organ; the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre in 2018, had noted that without the strengthening of the political parties, Nigeria’s democratic system will be weak. The report further showed that most political parties were unable to use the media and social media to enhance their visibility and market themselves to their target audiences.
He said the workshop was organized to interact with and equip the political parties with suggestions and tools on how to improve their visibility and their mandate by redesigning their strategies to make them relevant using information technology.
Some political party Chairmen in attendance gave a myriad of reasons inhibiting the effectiveness of the political parties. Some of these include lack of internal democracy in the selection of candidates; non-adherence to the electoral act and the rules while it will be helpful if individual control over the structure of some political parties could be further regulated by law.
Ordinarily, the sources of income to fund the activities of the political parties are membership fees, and subscriptions and donations. But these according to political parties’ managers are inadequate to finance the activities of the parties. Indeed, the political parties rarely pursue these with any measure of seriousness. Instead, they shop for donations from wealthy individuals, who often invariably hijack control of the party.
Some of the party Chairmen also lamented the inability of the Party to control their elected representatives at different levels. It was noted that some get elected on a party platform and migrate to the party in power especially at the state level. Whereas the law expects the Speaker of the House of Assembly to declare such seats vacant but such does not happen.
Hitting the nail on its head with another perspective, Professor Sola Adeyanju of NIPSS noted that “before now political parties used to sponsor candidates but now, candidates sponsor the political parties” asking rhetorically: “Can the political party control such a person that is paying all its bills and sponsoring his own campaign?”. He said it is given that he who pays the piper will dictate the tune.
In his paper on: Enhancing Political Parties Visibility in Social and Mainstream Media, the communication expert observed empirically that political parties only pay attention to the media during electioneering but soon after they go to sleep whereas serious political parties should be paying attention throughout the year.
Professor Adeyanju further submitted that in a competitive environment, a political party should make it easy for all its stakeholders to know what it is doing at any point in time, carry them along and also improve its visibility in the public space but that cannot be said of many of the existing political parties despite the reduction in their number to only 18.
Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Dr Leonard Nzenwa said a lot of people often wear a single-lens and blame the political parties for different problems in the democratic system forgetting that the parties are human organisations with their own challenges. He asked for instance: How do we address the issue of excessive demands of the people from the politicians? How do we stem the issue of vote selling and buying?
He submitted that the political parties are playing their role to stablilise democracy in Nigeria but things would be better if the myriad of problems besetting democracy in the country are looked at holistically and not always making the political parties or politicians the fall guy.