Anyim Pius Anyim, former secretary to the government of the federation, says the lack of internal democracy in political parties threatens Nigeria’s democracy.
The former senate president spoke on Wednesday at the 2022 Annual Political Parties Summit organised by Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Abuja.
The summit had the theme: ‘Political Parties, Elections and the Consolidation of Democracy: Emerging Issues and Needed Intervention in Nigeria’.
“The recent squabble over party primaries throughout the country clearly shows that not much has changed and that Nigeria political parties are not operating within norms of democratic principles,” Anyim said.
“Various political parties have repeatedly failed to adopt and apply the provisions of their constitution to all party members who are interested in running for office.
“Candidates are imposed on the party without election and due process, while others are forced to join or cross carpet to other political parties in protestation of apparent lack of fair and equal opportunities in the conduct of party primaries.
“In Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for instance, the complaints of the G-5 Governors of PDP is not that the party primary election was faulty but that the pre-and post-primary processes did not guarantee justice to them.
“In All Progressives Congress (APC) also, the Christian caucus are also aggrieved owing to perceived injustice following the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Let me, therefore, say that any failure to democracy starts with the political parties.”
Anyim called for the reform of political parties, saying they must no longer be structured for the sole purpose of acquiring power, but for promoting social justice, policies and good governance.
“Processes dealing with modalities for choosing persons to run for or occupy government offices (i.e primaries, selection, nomination, recommendation, etc) must be totally reformed in such a way that it is open, inclusive, transparent and promotes justice, equity and fairness,” he said.
“Issues of money politics, imposition, selective judgment, etc within the party system must be totally eradicated to allow for a more efficient and effective way of running political parties.”
Anyim advised the national assembly to do more in democratising the internal mechanisms of the parties through uniform legislation.
“The legislation on political party reforms must be holistic and geared towards improving leadership, capacity, discipline, internal democracy, ideology and conflict resolution mechanisms within the political parties. Again, I dare say that IPAC should champion this,” he said.
He advised the lawmakers to legislate on political intolerance by state governors.
“In some states today, holding political meetings and rallies have been banned in public places including markets,” he added.
“So, tell me, should campaigns in those states hold in the bedrooms of the contestants?
“My opinion is that the national assembly should rise to the occasion and legislate on this matter even as the law enforcement agents should protect the citizens’ right to peaceful assembly.”
Anyim asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow a third-party evaluation of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and election result viewing portal (IReV).
“I must say that with the introduction and use of these two technologies, the recent elections in Ekiti and Osun States appear to meet appreciable standards of credible free and fair elections,” he said.
“Nigerians expect the same standard in the 2023 general elections.
“I think this call is in the right direction because justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.
“Nigerians must be at ease that the BVAS technology is not a secret only known to INEC, it must be known to all that BVAS cannot be manipulated.”
Anyim added that there is a need to strengthen Nigerian institutions and IPAC should champion the efforts.