Deputy Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Geff Ojinika has urgently called for the funding of the political parties by government in order to stabilise the polity. Since parties are “vehicles for prospecting for leadership,” it is only fair that they are properly funded, he contends. But experts however say the party officials need
Deputy Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Geff Ojinika has urgently called for the funding of the political parties by government in order to stabilise the polity. Since parties are “vehicles for prospecting for leadership,” it is only fair that they are properly funded, he contends.
But experts however say the party officials need to properly galvanise their membership as a recipe for building up their funds. “Feeding the parties with government funds may imperil their growth,” notes, Dr Nurudeen Usman of the Nigerian Law School, Kano.
“Political parties as conveyor belts for throwing up leaders in our society should not be allowed to decay. Virtually all our institutions are in the process of decay. It is simplistic to expect our largely impoverished members to fund us. We need to understand that we also recruit our membership from a society that is virtually decaying,” the IPAC deputy chairman says.
Ojinika, also national chairman, Coalition for Change (C4C), is particularly piqued at the auditing of the finances of political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), when the parties do not receive any funding from the public purse. “Is it not a contradiction that the INEC which does not fund us insists on auditing our accounts,” he queries.
Responding to the discourse stirred by Prof Warisu Ali at the Validation Workshop of the Revised Training Modules for Political Parties, organised by the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre (PPLPDC), an arm of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Abuja, Ojinika says, “Our members are so impoverished that they hardly have the funds to bankroll the parties”.
Also speaking in the same vein, National Chairman, IPAC, Chief Peter Ameh says, “It will be idealistic to expect the members to fund the parties” arguing that “the big parties are largely funded by their members who are holding juicy political appointments”.
Explaining further, Ameh, also national chairman of Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) says, “When we had two governors in our fold, we had a whole building in a prime area of Abuja with over 200 staff. But once our governors deflected to other parties and some of our other prominent members left, we had to move our office to a two bedroom flat because our finances dwindled”.
“We do have our frustrations and appeal that the political parties need help. There are issues about our political parties in Nigeria. There’s a structural defect of our political party system. These issues are peculiar to our political system,” Ameh quips.
Elaborating on this issue, Mr Godson Okoye, legal adviser, IPAC says, “There’s a provision for the parties to be funded which was the reason the parties sued INEC. It took two years before the court gave judgement. Eventually the funds were tied to membership in national and state assemblies which excluded the smaller parties from benefiting from it”. “The parties never got any money from INEC. We need to correct this information,” Okoye, who’s also national secretary, United Democratic Party (UDP) says.
Warisu Ali, professor of Political Science at the University of Jos who stimulated the discussion on the issue of NIPSS-PPLPDC Training Handbook 1 on foundation, earlier argued that the Fourth Republic parties were more of chop chop platforms which lacked the tools for mobilising their membership to pay their subscriptions unlike the parties of the First and Second Republics which garnered its funds from its membership.
Also supporting the view that the parties should be funded, Prof Bolade Eyinla, technical adviser to the INEC chairman who argues that parties are the “vehicle for political evangelisation”, disclosed that parties are funded in countries like Lesotho, though this, according to him, is exploited by the political elite who always move a motion of no confidence after two years so that parties can get money for elections, rather than wait for the five year cycle.
Narrating their area of friction, he says, “Each time our officials go to audit the parties, they are usually confronted by the question: ‘Why are you auditing us when you are not funding us?’ It’s not impossible that the parties are planning to go to court to challenge INEC’s right to audit them”. Admonishing the party leaders to borrow from the organisational prowess of the First and Second Republic parties, Eyinla says this can still be replicated if the parties are resourceful. “My father never wavered in his contributions to the Action Group,” he notes.
Also citing the case of the poor peasants who supported the People’s Republican Party (PRP), Dr Nurudeen Usman of the Nigeria Law School, Kano whose presentation was on Party Financing, wants the parties to emulate this best practices and device means to fund them. “If you take finances from government, the parties may be in trouble. What is more sustainable is for the parties to be self financing”
He however called for strategies to ensure that the political parties take training seriously. “If the political parties can take this manual and study it properly, they can improve their operations.”
Reeling out the election figures of the last Ekiti governorship election where the two leading parties – All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) got 95 percent of the votes, leaving the other parties to share the remaining 5 percent, Eyinla is of the opinion that the parties needed to go back to a drawing board to re-appraise their strategies as he threw up some rhetorical questions.
“Do the political parties have an updated register of their members? How efficient is their administrative structure? What is their recruitment strategy? Do the parties have sufficient clout to demand membership dues?
“Ten years ago, the PDP had a launching to build its new headquarters. Ten years after, they are still in Wadatta House, How can that party ask for subscription from its members? Even the astronomical cost of both expression and nomination forms appear to be a devise to keep off some candidates from the parties. Do we simply call in the auctioneer and auction the parties to the highest bidder? For political godfathers, membership is also not important.”
“The people have become so impoverished that any politician that is not ready to give money will not go far. The people are even ready to get money from all sides”.
While decrying the low women representation amongst political office holders, Eyinla whose discourse was on Managing Political Parties Professionally, wants the women who consist of 40 per cent of the country’s voting population to translate that to political power. “The women voting population is slightly above 40 per cent. With this kind of power and population, why are the women not able to translate this to political power?”
Speaking on the gains of direct primaries, Prof Audu Naven Garba wants the parties to be galvanized to properly mobilise its membership to have a say on who represent them. “We should also task political party candidates to always respond to questions from the electorate.”
Earlier, while welcoming participants to the two-day workshop, Chief Operating Officer, NIPSS-PPLPDC, Prof Habu Galadima says the European Union – Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria Project (EU SDGN) is providing support to the NIPSS-PPLPDC to implement Component 3 of the project, which is Support to Political Parties, with the overall objective to Promote Pluralism, Tolerance, Internal Democracy and Equality of Political Parties and the Political Party System. The specific objectives according to him include:
i) To enhance Internal Democracy and Respect for Rules in Political Parties;
ii) To Strengthen Adherence to Legal Requirements on Party Funding and Campaign Finance;
iii) To Strengthen Engagements among Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other Relevant Stakeholders; and
iv) To Enhance the Involvement of Women, Youths and Persons with Disability (PWDs) in Political Parties and the Political Process.
In implementing the programme, NIPSS-PPLPDC, Galadima says conducted baseline surveys and polls to determine the training needs of Political parties. The gaps identified necessitate the review of the training curriculum, and the handbooks. The training curriculum is divided into four modules with several sub sections.
“It was fathomed from the baseline and the poll survey that political parties in Nigeria are confronted with quite a number of challenges. Parties face considerable challenges in the area of internal democracy with party elites frequently manipulating party rules to subvert internal party democracy for their personal political interests,” Galadima, also director of research, NIPPS says.
According to him, “Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (PWDs) are particularly disenfranchised within party leadership, occupying a minimal percentage of party leadership positions and having very limited influence on party decision-making.”
“Nigerian parties continue to be based on fragile foundations, including godfathers or dominant personalities and ethno- regional alliances. Parties have frequently mobilized supporters based on ethno-regional, religious, and personality politics.”
“Party development over time also witnessed the dominance of party elites at the expense of members and the use of undemocratic methods by these elites to struggle for control over the parties. For these reasons, Nigeria’s parties have faced particular challenges in building stable identities over time and attracting consistent membership through appeal to particular ideological values.,” he explains.
The workshop which also features presentations from Prof Bonaventure Haruna of the University of Jos and Prof Mohammed Kuna of the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto was largely attended by politicians, academicians and media practitioners.1 comment