At two separate visits to the Labour Party and KOWA Party, the message is simple and the visit was welcome by the parties respectively.
Leading members of the Planning Committee for the implementation of the NILS engagement with Political Actors, Prof Rufai Alkali noted that Labour Party is a party for the “people”. He reiterated the objective of the advocacy visit. He said that NILS proactively set up this intervention to seek support, partnership and encouragement from stakeholders and stimulate discussion that would form the basis for the proposed seminars, workshops and conferences that will look at contentious issues, mitigate apprehension before 2019 elections such as rigging, thuggery and electoral violence.
This he said is with a view to have a credible and acceptable outcome after 20 years of Nigeria’s return to democracy.
He stressed, that this visit affords opportunity for the political actors to take over ownership of the project.
He urged the Labour Party to remain focused, resilient and consistent as this is one way Nigeria’s democracy can grow.
In his response, the National Chairman, Labour Party, Alh. A.A Salam, commended the National institute for Legislative Studies for this initiative as well as the NILS-University of Benin Post-Graduate programmes, which he described as a welcome development in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.
He however raised concerns on a number of issues, these include: the issue of cross-carpeting, which he said is not healthy for our democracy. He expressed reservations on the National Assembly Bill on independent candidacy, which he said, will pose a huge challenge for the electoral umpire as the number of contestants will become unwieldy to manage. Another is the issue of god-fatherism, the influence of money politics. He called for proper regulation.
He said the unique thing about Labour Party is that the executive as well as most members came from the background of lab our unions, hence there have little or no money to quarrel over like is common, according to him, in some political parties.
At an interactive sessions with the leadership of KOWA Party, the National Chairman, Seidu Bobboi, enumerated challenges faced by political parties, which include, the over bearing influence of god-fathers. He observed that there can never be enough institutional interventions like is being done by NILS and International Republican Institute IRI.
While providing the context for this initiative, Prof Alkali stated that, following the newly assumed mandate of NILS, which includes democratic studies, a function hitherto, within the mandate of the defunct Centre for Democratic Studies, a Steering Committee for the engagement of all stakeholders was initiated by the National Assembly Leadership, under the Chairmanship of Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari. The objective was to design and implement sensitization programmes, workshops, seminars and conferences that will bring all political actors together to discuss and articulate a generally acceptable political code of conduct that would enhance Nigeria’s political culture and guarantee a hitch-free and credible political process, come 2019.
The Steering Committee on the proposed workshop for political parties has the former Deputy Senate President Senator Ibrahim Mantu, former Independent Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party and a professor of Political Science from the National Open University of Nieria, Prof Rufa’I Alkali along with other eminent professors of Political Science in the academia, including Prof Sam Egwu, as members.
The inter-party engagement is a collaborative initiative of the National institute for Legislative Studies with the International Republican Institute (IRI). The IRI/NILS intervention is part of efforts of the leadership of the National Assembly, to create avenues for interface, promote communication, reinforce democratic cohesion, close the gap and engender collaboration among political party stalwarts and between political parties.
IRI has been at the forefront, promoting and helping emerging democracies to learn best practices, address deficiencies and gaps in democracies and become more efficient.