Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has said there was an urgent need to deepen intra-party democracy, noting that many political parties were run like private businesses.
The governor, who was guest lecturer at the 6th to 10th Convocation of the Benue State University, Makurdi, last weekend, said the starting point for the deepening of democracy was to look at the nature and character of political parties.
Speaking on the topic: Challenges of Consolidating democracy in Nigeria: The Role of Labour, Oshiomhole said: â€œGodfatherism is incompatible with democracy. Who emerges the candidate of a party and how he emerges is important.
â€œWe must spend some time on intra-party democracy. In a genuine democracy, it is the party members that decide who becomes the candidate and not the leaders.Â We must revisit the whole concept of party membership and party funding.â€
He said the country was currently running a democratic form of government without democrats, saying, â€œwe must look at the language of politicians and find how we can refine it.
â€œSuch language as â€˜do-or-dieâ€™, â€˜we will captureâ€™, â€˜I have not decided on my successorâ€™, are incompatible with democracy.â€
He said Nigerian politicians hardly sleep, not because they want to better the lot of the people, but because of personal interests.
â€œOur leaders do not sleep not because of the problem of the people, but because of the problem of sharing within the political class,â€ he observed
The governor lamented that democracy was not delivering to the people, noting that statistics suggest that the level of poverty had risen to about 70 per cent.
He, however, maintained that the problem was not with democracy, insisting that the military did not do it better.
Oshiomhole saidâ€Â â€œThe problem started with the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) of the military which eliminated the middle class, thus creating a wide gulf between the rich and the poor.
â€œThose who were in the middle class dropped to a lower level and the percentage of the lower class rose.â€