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Deepening Constitutional Democracy

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One person who seems to be unhappy about the way the country runs its political parties is Mr Dan Nwanyanwu, the Chairman of Zenith Labour Party.
To him, funding of political parties should not be left at the whims and caprices of money bags, the president, governors or other elected officers of political parties.
He said that such would weaken the political system and make members mere spectators in their own affairs.
He recalled his experience when he gate-crashed in a meeting of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), presided over by the National Chairman, late Adisa Akinloye.
He noted that party supremacy was the in-thing, as the then President Shehu Shagari and his Deputy, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, sat where ordinary members of the party were all seated.
He stated that Akinloye, as the chairman and other party executives sat in a special seat provided for them.
Nwanyanwu said that in those days, there was equal ownership of the party, because members contributed and were unwaveringly committed to the party’s ideology.
The Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Mr. Leonard Nzenwa, stated that non-payment of party dues by party members, remained the core problem in deepening constitutional democracy in the country.
He said that political parties should be mass-owned, mass-oriented, mass funded and must be people-centred, stressing that it is the only way to ensure equality of members in any political party.
According to him, where it looks like few people put funds together to bankroll or fund any political party, such will remain a major problem to constitutional democracy.
Nzenwa who doubles as the Chairman of Action Alliance (AA), noted that funding of political parties by money-bags or few individuals, is a setback to constitutional democracy.
He observed that Nigeria is the only country where members of political parties would refuse to pay their party dues.
He said that in South Africa, the legendary Nelson Mandela, never claimed ownership of the African National Congress (ANC).
“Even in the days of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello, they never claimed to own their party as members pay their dues as and when due,” he said
The IPAC boss said that if today promoters of political parties are laying claims to ownership of their respective political parties, it showed the sad reality of the time.
“Even in America where we borrowed our democracy, no one claimed to own the party even as rich as former President Donald Trump is, at no time did he claim to own the party unlike what is obtainable in Nigeria,” he said
He said that the idea of certain individuals claiming ownership of political parties should be stopped, adding that such people used it as a vehicle to blackmail others.
Nzenwa noted that such abuse must be addressed through party structure, commitment of members to the party and high sense of responsibility.
“Hardly do members pay party dues, including my political party and this is because of non-chalant attitude of members, so the money-bags hijack the parties.
“Political parties cannot survive if members refuse to pay, because why we have problem in political parties is that members do not want to make commitment and do not want to take responsibility.
“Members are not sincere and that is why we have this issue because people keep jumping from one political party to the other once they see that there are going to get money there, there is no ideology whatsoever,” he stated.
The Publicity Secretary of Young Peoples Party (YPP), Mr. Wale Martins, on his part said that YPP members pay their monthly dues, which according to him, is what has been keeping the party going.
He stated that donations are also welcomed from members and highly spirited Nigerians, but added that, that would not confer undue advantage on them.
“YPP members pay monthly dues which differ from state to state; for instance, in Lagos members pay N1000 monthly, while in some other states, they pay between N500 and N100, while party executives pay N3000,” he said
Martins stressed that payment of dues create a sense of belonging, adding that it would further help to promote accountability.
Martins said that members were reluctant to pay their dues because money-bags had hijacked the political structure and members had given tacit support to those willing to drop money in a bid to control the soul of the party and dictate the pace.
Martins said that vote-buying, manipulation and other shenanigans are fallout of this ugly development, especially during party primaries to elect candidate that would fly the flags of the parties.
He also said that government’s withdrawal of payment of subvention to parties was responsible for hijacking of the political process by powerful individuals.
“The government used to give political parties subvention, but the sudden withdrawal of such subvention eroded their confidence and left members with no choice than to embrace money-bags,’’ he said.
The Executive Director, Adopt A Goal For Development Initiative, Mr. Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said that the country cannot deepen constitutional democracy without political party reformation.
He said that the reformation must guarantee internal party democracy and ensure that party members and officials adhere strictly to rules, guidelines and the constitution.
He noted that the products of political parties become the drivers of the nation’s democracy; hence, the country must focus on the basic foundation of ensuring the process of party membership conforms to best practices.
“We must ensure that few money bags and people in power do not undermine and appropriate the functions of political parties,” he said.
To get the best out of this democracy, Atoye stated that the country needs political parties that are funded by members and the public and not a few political merchants.

Ogunshola writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

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Ex-Minister, Senator Emerge PDP Senatorial Candidates In Kwara

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Former Minister of Sports, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, has emerged the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for Kwara central senatorial district.
Abdullahi was elected through affirmation by delegates at the PDP’s senatorial primary at Mariam Event Centre, Ilorin.
The national officer that conducted the primary, Hashim Jimoh, announced Abdullahi as the winner, having been returned unopposed.
Also a former Senator, Rafiu Ibrahim was elected as the PDP’s candidate for Kwara south senatorial district.
Ibrahim also emerged through affirmation at the primary in Omu- Aran in Irepodun local government area of the state.
Chairman of PDP in Kwara south, Comrade Bisi Fakayode raised up Ibrahim’s hand after his unanimous election.
Speaking with reporters after his emergence, Abdullahi thanked the PDP stakeholders and delegates for confirming him as Kwara central’s candidate.
He also thanked journalists for their support, adding that :” I do not take your support and that of the PDP’s stakeholders for granted.
Abdullahi assured the people of his constituency of quality representation at the Senate.

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PDP Primary: Two Ondo Senators Fail To Secure Return Tickets

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Two sitting senators from Ondo State, Ayo Akinyelure, and Nicholas Tofowomo, have lost their bid to return to the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
They lost in the primary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, held on Monday in the state.
Akinyelure is representing Ondo Central Senatorial District while Tofowomo represents Ondo South Senatorial District.
In the primary held in Akure, the state capital, Akinyelure came second, polling 58 votes behind Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, who scored 82 votes.
On the other hand, Tofowomo scored 74 votes behind a former Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Agboola Ajayi, who polled 78 votes in the exercise that held in Okitipupa, in the Okitipupa Local Government Area of the state.
In the Ondo North Senatorial District, Mr Adetokunbo Modupe, defeated his opponent, Mr Foluso Adefemi, with 124 votes as against 93 votes.
Speaking with journalists after the election, Akinyelure attributed his loss to the influence of the former Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who did not support him.
Akinyelure said, “As a ranking Senator and with all I have done for them in Ondo Central Senatorial District, the three ad- hoc delegates that favour Olusegun Mimiko, they gave instructions for them to vote me out. I am happy about this but I know my God will never fail.
“I know what I am talking about. We have six local governments in the central, by the grace of God I am still a sitting Senator. The election was so transparent but I know that with the volume of what I have done for the Ondo Central Senatorial District, I did not expect to be paid this way. But I have a destiny that nobody can stop.”
The winner of the Ondo Central primary, Adedipe, said it was the first time he would be contesting for elective office, calling all members of the party to support him to win the main election in 2023.
He said, “The exercise has been peaceful and very free. It is the PDP that has won and not Ifedayo. It is the party that conducts a free and fair election. My fellow aspirants should see this as a vote for all of us.”

 

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Rivers Dep Gov, Others Win Senatorial Tickets

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Mrs Ipallibo Harry Banigo, has won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket for the Rivers West Senatorial District election.
Ipalibo, who hails from Degema Local Government Area, scored 264 votes to clinch the party’s ticket for Rivers West.
The senatorial primaries, which held across the three senatorial districts, also produced Allwell Onyesoh as the candidate of the PDP for Rivers East.
Onyesoh, who hails from Etche Local Government Area, was said to have scored 270 votes to earn him the senatorial flag of the party.
The party also gave its ticket for the Rivers Southeast Senatorial District to a former House of Representatives member, incumbent senator Barinada Mpigi.
The state Publicity Secretary of PDP, Sydney Tambari Gbara, who described the exercise as peaceful, said consensus method was used in some areas to elect the candidates.

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