Internal democracy: PGF boss calls for new orientation in management of political parties

Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Moh Lukman, has called for a new orientation in the management of political parties to address issues of membership recruitment and management, party funding and administration.

Lukman, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said unless these issues are addressed Nigerians will continue to experience all the familiar challenges weakening internal democracy within political parties.

In a statement released to newsmen Sunday in Abuja, the PGF boss appealed to all APC leaders to return to the founding vision of the party of ensuring that every member of the party is authorised as part of the internal rule to participate in the process of candidate selection for election.

“To achieve that will require the existence of verifiable membership record, which should be electronically preserved. The current manual analogue record must be upgraded to digital and computerised record with very competent officials managing it.

“Part of the appeal to APC leaders is that the process of electing national officers present a big opportunity to ensure that competent officers to run the affairs of the party, and not surrogates, are elected. Competent officers may not be attracted when the funding reality for the party is loosely defined. Therefore, as part of the compelling initiatives to return the party to its original vision, leaders of the party should conclude on issues of membership subscription and specifically take every decision about sources of funding for the party.”

According to Lukman, APC leaders will have to make all the needed sacrifice to allow the party to develop the corresponding new orientation, to make the party emerge as truly the party of change.

“The caution must however be expressed that it will almost be impossible to achieve once disposition of party leaders is limited to aspiring to emerge as candidates for elections. Desperation to emerge as candidates for elections will always pitch party leaders against each other.

“Party structures will only be allowed to operate based on estimation of potentials to achieve political aspirations. Internal consultations, both formal and informal will be weak. Relationship between members of the executive and legislative branches, even when belonging to the same party, will be everything but cordial. Above all the powers of party management to regulate conduct of elected officials at all levels will remain a dream.

“As much as enabling legal framework is required to guarantee internal democracy within parties, political leaders at all levels should be ready to make the right sacrifices. Making sacrifices in politics must be seen beyond personal advantages to access elective and appointive offices. Ability to develop strong institutional capacity to command the respect and confidence of party members is an important democratic enabler for both electoral victory and security for political leaders in the long run.”

The APC chieftain commended the Nigerian Senate for passing the electoral amendment bill, which among others approved electronic transmission of election results and compel all political parties in the country to use direct method of conducting party primary for the selection of candidates for electoral contests.

He, however proposed that party funding should be 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 condition 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.

“Similarly, Deputy National Chairmen could have the same conditions as that of the Senate President, National Secretary, same conditions as that of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, other principal officers in the National Working Committee could have same conditions as Ministers while those of them that are Deputies or Assistants could have the same conditions as Ministers of State. Directors in the party Secretariat could have the same conditions as Permanent Secretaries. This logic can also be replicated at state and local governments levels.

“The point is that so long as 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. To the extent that a number of these issues are being debated in APC, which is largely responsible for why an APC dominated Senate could propose compelling parties to include direct primary as the method for candidates’ selection by all parties as part of the electoral law, there is every hope that the potential is higher to be achieved in APC.”

UNI Agric Markurdi
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