By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Edo State born lawyer, Mrs. Georgina Dakpokpo is the only female national chairman of a registered political party, that is the Youth Democratic Party, YDP. In this interview, she speaks on the advantages of keeping what she calls the lesser political parties.
Do you think the proliferation of political parties is a cost on the political system?
I don’t think the cost is as enormous as we are wont to think.
Whether they were two political parties or 500, INEC would still employ the same number of ad-hoc staff. INEC doesn’t and stopped funding political parties since 2011.
On the contrary, economically, political parties contribute somewhat… each of the lesser popular parties employs at least three members of staff.
So, in essence, I do not agree at all to the proscription of parties…I mean, what’s the essence of proscribing existing political parties that have not been given the opportunity to properly establish themselves within the polity, with some of them registered less than six months to the General Election. Meanwhile, there are over 100 associations waiting to be registered already.
So what role do you think the lesser political parties play in the polity?
These lesser popular political parties help to create more political awareness in the polity, by reason of their voters’ education and membership drive.
They also provide platforms for leadership training and recruitment. The more popular parties are saturated and barely afford greenhorns without godfathers any opportunity to play in the arena. However, these other parties, especially because they are created by ideological individuals and funded by them and not by godfathers are able to make themselves available as platforms for leadership training and recruitment.
There are several other advantages that these less popular Parties bring to the political sphere, such as voters’ education and advocacy, expansion of the democratic space fostering inclusivity.
How would someone like me as several other bright minds have had the opportunity to chair a political party or gain the politicking experience, beyond armchair participation?
They also provide more opportunities for the electorate to choose from.
Another important advantage that favours our democratic process is the networking among stakeholders made possible via our multi-party participation.
Should there be a regulation on how parties can get on the ballot?
However, I do agree that something needs to be done about getting parties on the ballot for elections. The process needs to be regulated, but I don’t agree to proscription, it could turn out to be a dangerous decision if we are unfortunately saddled with a despotic leader in future
The solution is setting up conditions that must be met before any party can get on the ballot… this is what is obtainable in older democracies like the US and UK
Our constitution states that for someone to be declared a president, (s)he must win 25% of votes cast in 2/3rd of the states of the federation. In my opinion, therefore, a party must prove with physical address and membership register of being able to have a presence in at least 2/3rd of the States in the federation.
I’m not implying they should have 25% percent of the required voters as members because they could get votes from supporters who are not necessarily members of the party