Thursday, 14 March 2013

Atiku backs APC

Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar yesterday openly supported the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC), describing the development as a way towards having a strong and viable political opposition in the country.

The former VP bared his mind at the public lecture organized by the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, as part of activities marking its 50th anniversary held at the large Lecture Theatre, Faculty of Social Sciences of the institution. The Turakin of Adamawa, who spoke on the topic, “Thoughts on Internal Democracy in Nigerian Political Parties: Challenges and Strategies,” said he had for a long time been a strong advocate of a two-party system, confessing that: “I am pleased that progress is being made in that regard, with the recent emergence of the All Progressive Congress (APC).”
He posited that two-party system was the best way to have parties that cut across the various regional, ethnic and religious fault-lines, adding: “It is also the only guarantee of a viable alternative to the ruling party, which is critical to keeping the ruling party from taking the electorate for granted.” Having identified the avalanche of problems confronting internal democracy and their evil effects, the former Nigerian number two citizen called for comprehensive political reform in Nigeria, which must include change in the manner of the appointment and tenure of the chairman and commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) in such a way that the commission would not be a willing tool in the hands of sitting president.
He noted that: “The reforms will not only seek to bring about direct changes in the way the parties conduct their affairs, but change the electoral system in a manner that will leave the political parties little choice, but to promote internal democracy as a survival strategy.” Other components of the reform as suggested by the former vice president, include funding of the electoral umpire from “the first line charge of the Consolidated Revenue Fund,” to make it less dependent on the government in power.
Also, the former VP said there should be effective monitoring of parties, to ensure conformity with the letter and spirit of electoral laws, a development he noted “might include time-bound intrusive legislative changes, empowering the INEC to intrusively monitor parties for the next 15 or 20 years, to ensure that they obey the laws of the land, including their own constitutions and guidelines.”
Abubakar also wants a ban on the use by incumbents of state resources for partisan purposes, including electioneering campaigns, adding: “Where such use is unavoidable, such as the use by the president of the Presidential aircraft, the cost must be borne by the incumbent’s party this is how it is done in real democracies.” For the electoral reforms to have meaning, he insisted that anyone whose electoral victory “is being challenged should be barred from being sworn in until those disputes have been resolved.
This will be a strong disincentive against electoral fraud.” While calling on Nigerians to take effective steps to make votes count as a means of forcing parties to field popular candidates, the former VP called for reform of security agencies with a focus on clearly ensuring their neutrality in elections.

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