Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the national officers of political parties yesterday met to discuss ways of curbing litigations and campaign expenditure.
The commission organised a two-day capacity-building workshop in Abuja for the registered parties to map out strategise on how to deal with the handling of party finances which has often caused disagreement among the members.
In his keynote address, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, who represented by the chairman Election and Party Monitoring Committee, Prof. Antonia Okoosi Simbine, urged the participants to address the issue of lack of transparency in the funding and expenditures of political parties and campaign expenses.
According to the INEC chairman, â€œThe commission urged participants to focus on specific learning points that will impact their respective responsibilities as there are ongoing consultation towards cascading this and other capacity building workshops to the level of state party executives across the 36 states and the FCT.
â€œThere are on-going consultations by the commission towards cascading this and other capacity-building workshops to the level of state party executives across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) is being carried along in the discussions.
â€œAs you partake in this workshop over the next two days, I urge all participants to be focused on specific learning points that will impact on their respective responsibilities as Legal Advisers, Organizing Secretaries and Treasurers.
â€œI believe that when these key functions are effectively administered, the results will be self-evident in the functioning of political parties and how they and the candidates that they present for office are perceived by the electorate.
â€œTowards this end, it is imperative to re-emphasie some key areas that need special attention in addressing the gaps in capacity and efficacy of political parties in Nigeria.
â€œThese include; â€œLack of or limited internal democracy in terms of electing party executives, selecting candidates for office and formulating policies and making decisions.
â€œInsufficient inclusivity in terms of absence of deliberate policies to promote participation of key social groups including women, youths and people living with disabilities.
â€œLack of transparency in the funding and expenditures of political parties and campaign expenses. The absence of formal internal mechanisms for mediation and dispute resolution.
â€œLimited deliberate compliance with relevant provisions of party constitutions, the Electoral Act and other regulations guiding political party activities. You will agree that these are critical areas and challenges that affect the roles and functions of legal advisers, organising secretaries and treasurers.
â€œThis workshop is therefore an opportunity for political party executives of these categories to exchange ideas and learn international best practices in political party administration and operations.
â€œI urge all political party leaders to remain committed to implementing the lessons learnt at both the last and this phase of the capacity building workshops towards improving the institutional capacity of political parties. This will certainly contribute to strengthening democracy in Nigeria,â€ he said.
Addressing the participants, theÂ Team Leader, Governance and Peacebuilding of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Nigeria, Dr. Kehinde A Boiaji, urged them to deliberate on issues that can deepen democracy.