Niger REC: Lack of Internal Democracy in Political Parties Retarding Growth of Democracy in Nigeria

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By Laleye Dipo

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Niger State, Prof. Sam Egwu,
has observed that lack of internal democracy in political parties is retarding the growth of democracy in the country.

Egwu, who spoke in Minna ahead of the by bye-election for the Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency seat Saturday, lamented that most often political parties “handpicked” their candidates without recourse to members of the parties.

In addition, the REC regretted that in many of the parties, some people have hijacked the ownership, making those that are members valueless.

“Weakness of democracy still remains the weakness of political parties. Lack of capacities on the part of parties to properly scrutinise their candidates to ensure they respect their own constitution and by-laws is yet another problem.

“We should build political parties that are truly democratic. Parties should be truly funded by members who should share the same vision and ideology,” he said.

Egwu went further to say: “If political parties are not democratic, they cannot be democratic when they win election.

“They (political parties) must truly live the image they present to the larger world, God fathers should not dictate to other members of the parties.”

Commenting on why the bye-election has to take place, the REC said it was not the fault of INEC because the commission “conducted free and fair elections, the parties did not contest the outcome of the election, they accepted the will of the people. The only reason why the election was upturned was that the candidate was proved not to be qualified by the court”.

Egwu insisted that INEC should not be involved in the choice of candidates to be presented for elections by political parties, pointing out however that “INEC should be represented at the primary election of political parties as observers”.

INEC is conducting the bye-election for the Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency seat on Saturday, February 6, 2021 without the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the disqualification of its candidates by the court.

The candidates of ADC, Halilu Yussuf; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Salihu Saleh; and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alamu Emmanuel Endoza, are contesting the election.

INEC is deploying 1,250 ad hoc staff for the polls in the two local government areas where over 160,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots under strict security to be provided by 1,270 policemen and unspecified number of solders and other security operatives.