PGF D-G tasks political parties on remuneration for leaders
Aanya Igomu, Abuja
One vital issue that Nigerian political parties need to address in order to strengthen internal democracy is defining remuneration and conditions of services for party leaders at all levels.
The Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, PGF, Mr Salihu Lukman said this in a press statement in reaction to the amendment of Nigeria’s Electoral Act currently ongoing.
Mr Lukman while commending the Senate for empowering the Electoral umpire to transmit results electronically added that it would be impossible for political parties to hold direct primaries to select candidates (as amended by the senate) if some vital issues are not addressed within Nigerian political parties.
He noted that there is a disconnect in Nigeria’s electoral process where progress is being made to enhance the processes of election management in the country while management of political parties remains backwards.
The PGF DG emphasised that membership recruitment and management, party funding and administration are fundamental issues that need to be addressed to strengthen internal democracy in parties.
“Most of the public debates about internal democracy within Nigerian political parties hardly address the fundamental issues of membership management, party funding and administrations.
“So long as political parties in Nigeria are not challenged to alter the current framework, which reduced party members to free-riders, with no financial responsibility, and party leaders at all levels surrogates of aspiring politicians, the effectiveness of legal provisions will remain weak.
“To what extent, will any measure to free parties from the control of serving governors address the fundamental issues of membership management, party funding and administration? How can a legal provision compelling parties to use direct primary to select candidates for election address the problem of the poor record of members, for instance?
“With poor records of members, it is almost certain that the phenomenon of the internal process of candidate selection will be messier. Just imagine a situation whereby INEC is asked to introduce card readers to accredit voters without voters register,” he said.
Mr Lukman also raised the need for all members to be active in funding the party in order to avoid the situation where a few wealthy people who are funding it also have total control of the party.
“Once party funding is defined such that minimum resources needed to run party affairs are generated, remuneration and conditions of services for party leaders at all levels should be similarly defined. Part of the recommendation should be to benchmark party conditions of service with existing conditions of public service.
“For instance, the National Chairman of the party could have the same remuneration and condition as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended and other relevant provisions of other statutory bodies.
“The point is that so long as the management of political parties failed to address these fundamental issues of membership recruitment and management, party funding and administration, Nigerians will continue to experience all the familiar challenges weakening internal democracy within political parties,” Lukman said.
The PGF D-G also call for enabling laws for electronic voting in order to reduce the high level of vote-buying in the country.