Sponsors of the controversial bill that canvassed for inclusion of lawmakers as members of political parties’ NEC said the move was to save the parties from “dictatorial and tyrannical” management.
Reps Igo Aguma and Cyril Maduabum sponsors of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill in separate interviews Sunday gave explanation why “the vexed clause 87 which sought to include federal lawmakers as members of the NEC of their respective parties was inserted in the draft legislation.”
Bill not meant to serve personal interest-Reps
The lawmakers argued that the draft legislation was not intended to serve their personal interest but to attain a level-playing field for all political actors.
Aguma (PDP-Rivers) recalled that during the Second Republic, members of parliament were also members of the NEC of their respective political parties.
He said the arrangement enabled federal lawmakers articulate their party policies and manifestoes in a near fanatical manner because they were involved at the formulation stage.
Advocate Option A4 in 2011 election
The lawmaker, who equally advocated for the adoption of Option A4 voting formula, where the electorate would queue directly behind the candidate of their choice in any election, decried lack of internal democracy in the parties.
Aguma said in spite of its constitutional provisions, parties had shunned primaries in electing candidates.
Jonathan has nothing to do with bill-Reps
He, however, distanced President Goodluck Jonathan from the Bill, saying that the relationship between the President and the National Assembly had been frosty lately as reflected in the rejection of two executive bills on the World Bank loan request and the Electoral Act amendment.
He also denied the inclusion of what has been termed “right of first refusal” in the amendment, saying it was the height of mischief for certain individuals to label a noble legislation in a bad light just because their hold on the parties would be adversely affected.
Aguma said there was no way the legislation would accord National Assembly advantage in seeking re-election.
He said some of the parties like ANPP already had such provision in its constitution, wondering why ACN, which had about 40 representatives in both chambers of the National Assembly should convince Nigerians how the number could make its NEC “unwieldy”.
Aguma said only dictators had something to fear about the draft legislation, assuring Nigerians on the genuine intentions of proponents of the amendment.
In a statement entitled: “The Reasons for seeking to amend the Electoral Act 2010’, Maduabum, (PDP-Anambra) decried the lack of internal democracy in the parties which have been hijacked largely by some state executives and political god-fathers.
He said that the amendment would provide a level playing field for all aspirants to elective offices.
He said a situation where a few individuals hijacked political parties and dictated to the rest of the country ‘who gets what and how’ was no longer acceptable to majority of the progressive-minded members of the National Assembly.
“The dictatorial, tyrannical, capricious, whimsical and discretionary manner in which some political parties are run in the country today is cause for worry. There is absolute lack of internal democracy in many political parties.
“A few people have hijacked the political parties, they dictate to the rest of the country who gets what and how. There is no form of democracy or representation of the interests of the people.
“ Political parties are recruiting grounds for candidates for various offices. Their role is too important to the democratic process to be left unregulated.
“It is because some political parties have refused to broaden the political space on their own that necessitated this amendment. We have intervened legislatively to sanitise the process since the political parties have apparently proved incapable of doing this”, he said.
Citing cases of advanced democracies, Maduabum said that in the United States of America, members of the legislature constitute membership of the NEC of their respective parties which in essence keeps them fully informed of party policies and objectives.
He said that the Bill would broaden the democratic space in the parties, as opponents of the amendment were those who constituted “actual danger’ to the country’s young democracy.
Maduabum, a lawyer by profession, said some of the parties had enshrined the provision in their constitution as what the present amendment sought to achieve was merely to make a universal provision for all the political parties.
Maduabum said item 56 on the exclusive legislative list in the Constitution as well as Section 228 gave the National Assembly the powers to formulate guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy within political parties.