•Says it’s late to propose fresh amendments to electoral act
Juliet Akoje in Abuja
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday, said it was nolonger fashionable to expect the federal government to fund political parties at this critical period of Nigeria’s democratic advancement.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Lanre Lasisi, he stated that using government’s money to run the parties was an indirect invitation for it to assume control of the political parties by dictating choices and policies that might be in conflict with the tenets of democracy.
Gbajabiamila argued that the international best practice was for parties to be self-funded and that using government’s money would also lead to the proliferation of political parties.
Gbajabiamila, who said this while receiving a delegation of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) at the National Assembly in Abuja, noted that people would simply abuse the process by registering hundreds of political parties in the hope of cashing out on free government money.
“I am not sure how many countries fund their political parties; we will have to do research and to be sure that it’s international best practice. Government is an interested party, if it will be providing the funds, that will also mean they can compromise the system.
“There is also proliferation (of parties) that will become a problem if the government begins to fund the parties, since there will be free money,” he explained.
Reacting to requests for fresh amendments to the Electoral Act 2022, the speaker said it was not advisable to do so a few months before the general election, because making new amendments to the law this period could disorganise election planning, create unnecessary tension in the polity and raise credibility questions.
According to him, the safest route would be to further amend the Act after the elections if a need arose, or in the alternative, aggrieved persons could approach the judiciary to seek an interpretation of any contentious provisions.
He, therefore, called for patience, urging parties to seize the opportunity of the upcoming polls to fully test the Act and determine the success of innovations such as electronic transmission of results, the deployment of the BIVAS, among others.
He added that upon a successful poll, other innovations such as electronic collation of results and Diaspora voting could also be considered.
On his part, National Chairman of IPAC, Yabagi Sani, told the Speaker that the purpose of the visit was to seek synergy and a good working relationship between IPAC and the National Assembly.
Among the issues he tabled were the alleged flouting of Section 31 of the Electoral Act by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the funding of political parties, the urgency to establish the Electoral Offences Commission, electronic collation of election results, in addition to the electronic transmission of results, and the call for a change in the process of appointing the chairman of INEC.