By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: As the 2019 General elections draws nearer, Nigerians have expressed concern over the increasing number of political parties and how they can have access to ballots in 2019.
This was the crux of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Nigerian Political Parties Discussion Series, which held in Abuja on Tuesday and had in attendance, representatives from the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), All Progressives Congress, (APC), People’s Democratic Party(PDP) and Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA).
Speaking at the event, the Senior Programmes Officer, CDD, Yusuf Shamsudeen, noted that, what matters, is not just about the number of political parties, but for space to be given to citizens to constructively engage in the entire political process.
He also remarked that, the quality of the political parties in terms of agenda setting, is most significant and will add more value to the electoral process.
According to him, “We are all aware that we will be having elections in less than one year and the idea of the Centre for Democracy and development, is actually to start having conversations on issues that we think are very very important to credibility of our elections and electoral processes and having this discussion today, we all see the increasing number of political parties and access to ballots .
“The political parties can be 100 or 200 but most important thing is that, that space is given to citizens, to constructively engage in the entire process and also, the quality of political parties in terms of the agenda setting”.
He further added, that having more political parties, implies that there will be more people who will be dishing out good and robust ideas to ensure that Nigeria has a more robust conversation when it comes to national development.
Speaking on the panel, the Director, Election and Party Monitoring(INEC), Mr Aminu Idris,disclosed that INEC does not go to the field to choose which Congress to attend, as doing that would mean that the Commission is running it’s own political party.
On the Commission’s engagement with women, Idris said that a whole department has been created for civil society and People Living with Disabilities, to promote inclusivity, as more women will lead to more membership and support base.
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC) Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said that many parties exist, waiting to be adopted by big political parties, saying also that high number of political parties is not the issue, but what they do when they come into existence matters.
Also speaking, the Deputy National Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Emmanuel Agbo,stressed that all eyes are on the ruling APC to perform, noting however, that INEC has become a fundamental part of the totality of undemocratic processes that are in the APC.
“If you (APC) have learnt and you are displaying negativity then you have no place in this country and no business in providing leadership in this country.
“We are here to ring out all that we have been part of and to bring out those things that if corrected, will deepen our democracy” he said.
In his remarks, the National Chairman Progressives Peoples Party (PPA), Chief Peter Ameh, stated that if the APC has not been able to differentiate themselves from those that have been there before, then there is a problem in Nigeria.
“We must correct this short coming that is not allowing our people to develop. We cannot continue to dodge. We must provoke ourselves to be able to do good for our country to help grow our democracy” he ended.