The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Kuru, has reaffirmed its commitment to engage political parties meaningfully to promote tolerance.
Mr Jonathan Juma, the Acting Director-General of NIPPS said this at the opening of an annual conference of political parties and stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja.
The two-day event is being organised by NIPPS, in collaboration with Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre (PPLPDC) and the European Union.
The theme of the conference is “Review of the Conduct of Political Parties in the 2019 General Elections” on Thursday in Abuja.
Juma said that the commitment had become important because political parties were crucial to the success of democratic governments worldwide.
According to him, in spite of evidence of democratic consolidation in Nigeria’s 4th republic following five successive elections, there are growing concerns over future growth of democratic institutions, specifically political parties.
“NIPPS and PPLPDC engagement with political parties since 2013 has been based on the understanding that political parties are essential institutions of democracy.
“To provide vital channels for aggregating citizen’s interests and for holding government accountable, consequently, the health of democracy will be determined by the health and vibrancy of its political parties.
“I believe this is what informed the EU, SDGN projects for which NIPPS and PPLPDC as beneficiaries are handling component three, which deals with support to political parties and political party system.
“Under this project, NIPPS and PPLPDC are committed to the engagement of political parties for the purpose of promoting proxy, tolerance, internal democracy and equality of political parties.”
He identified the project objective to include need to enhance internal democracy and respect for rules of political parties, strengthen adherence to legal requirements of party funding and campaign financing.
Also speaking, Mrs Temi Harriman, a member of NIPPS Governing Board, said that the institute remained the country’s apex policy formation centre, therefore it was imperative to review the 2019 polls to deepen democracy in Nigeria.
According to her, democracy as a system of government is a constant work in motion and progress requiring internal vigilance for its sustenance.
“The event is an opportunity for political parties and stakeholders to candidly examine and take responsibility for lapses, shortcomings and infractions.
“This is part of component three to uphold political parties in European Union democratic governance and will help in reinforcing democratic principles in Nigeria,” Harriman said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, said that the commission had in 2010 reformed its operational policy to meet the yearnings of Nigerians to promote democratic growth.
Yakubu, represented by Prof Sam Egwu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in-charge of Niger State, said the aim of the review was to improve on the country’s democratic process.
According to him, it is the responsibility of INEC to regulate and monitor political parties and this is what we do collectively and there will be many post-election reviews.
“INEC will do all these in terms of moving forward in an electoral cycle approach, so the end of 2019 marks the end of another electoral cycle.
“Political parties have been one of the weakest links in our democracy, what we do is to understand the circumstance in which political parties operate in Nigeria, what we need is commitment.”
According to Chief Peter Ameh, the National Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, the programme initiative will help to shape political discuss of the council.
He said that the 2019 general elections was among other things marred by electoral malpractices, desperation by politicians and high level of thuggery.
“If we all want the electoral system that will work without lot of bandages INEC should be unbundled to allow it deliver on its mandates.
“INEC carries a lot of responsibilities, therefore, the need to unbundle it; if we fail to proffer solutions, we are more likely to repeat history,’’ Ameh said.
Meanwhile, Mr Abubakar Adamu, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, underscored the need for proper conduct of political parties to achieve the desired goals.
According to him, there is no doubt that the conduct of political parties has become very critical in sustaining the electoral process.
“It is against this backdrop that I wish to associate with this engagement and wish you fruitful deliberation.
“I assure you that the outcome of this deliberation will be available to the Nigerian Police and other related agencies, so as to strengthen election management in future polls,” Adamu said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event featured interactive session on overview of the conduct of political parties, tracking and analysing violence and conflict management, among others.