INEC Advocates Observance of Internal Democracy among Parties 

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Olumide Lawal

The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has called on political parties to observe principle of internal democracy as a way of entrenching democracy in the country.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the advice yesterday in Abuja at a one-day roundtable.

The event organised by the International Republican Institute (IRI), USAID, Partners for Electoral Reforms (PER) and the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has the themed, ‘Internal Party Democracy: Role of CSOs in strengthening political party primaries in Nigeria.

Yakubu who was Represented by the Chair, Election and Party Monitoring in INEC, Prof. Antonia Simbine, said  lack of internal democracy had led to frequent conflict  and exclusion of citizens at the detriment of  democratic development.

He said, “The unwillingness to allow internal democracy leads to frequent conflicts and constrains the development of parties as popular organisations. Expectedly, this leads to internal party crisis and low level of inclusivity of non-influential members, youths and women for strong political positions.

“Ultimately, parties will not be able to attain the expected degree of institutionalization, especially in the areas of structure, organisation, internal cohesion and discipline. This deficiency contributes to the decline of political parties’ conflict management capacities at intra-party relations level,” Yakubu said.

The Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, said almost all Nigerian political parties suffer from internal democracy deficit.

He said  while there were rules that specified how  primary elections should be conducted,  including the Electoral Act, parties often ignore, twist or subvert the rules to arrive at candidates through selection, negotiation, or manipulation.

He said the subversion of the “popularity principle” by stakeholders, especially politicians, led to the 1967 Civil War and the military coup of 1983, warning that it was in the interest of politicians and the country to avoid actions that can endanger democracy in the country.

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