INEC, IPAC seek review of Electoral Act
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) have called on the National Assembly to undertake a comprehensive review of the 2010 Electoral Act, regretting that some provisions of the law have worked against the actualization of true democracy in the country.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega lamented that certain provisions of the Electoral Act necessitated the lack of internal democracy in political parties and last-minute substitution of candidates which he noted have posed serious challenges to the commission.
Jega who noted that INEC had series of running court cases before and after the 2015 general elections as a result of last-minute substitution of candidates by political parties revealed that the party structure in many West African countries are firmer than what obtains in Nigeria.
Speaking during a stakeholders conference on 2015 elections, organised by National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS) yesterday in Abuja, Jega who was represented by Prof. Mohammed Kuna, an INEC commissioner, 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 on the lack of internal democracy in political parties, chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council Mallam Yinusa Tanko, backed by the National chairmen of the Labour Party (LP) Abdulkadir Salam and his United Democratic Party (UDP) counterpart, Godson Okoye called for a total overhauling of the existing Electoral Act.
They further stressed that 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 what. 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. Big men do not own these small parties. 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.”
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