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Ekweremadu wants proportional representation of parties in parliament


Senator Ike Ekweremadu

• IRI launches $5.5 million RPPP to support political parties
The Deputy Senate President, Dr Ike Ekweremadu has called for the introduction of a proportional representation system in the country.

Speaking during the launch of the International Republican Institute (IRI) of Responsive Political Party Programme (RPPP) in Nigeria in Abuja yesterday, the Deputy Senate President said the measure would surely check the spate of defection of legislators from one party to another in breach of constitutional provisions.

Lamenting non-adherence to party ideologies and manifestos by public office holders, Ekweremadu said political parties should be allowed to determine occupants of their seats in parliament.

Said he: “Seats occupied by lawmakers in parliament presumed to belong to their political parties. Yet, the parties do not retain the seats in the event of the death, incapacitation, resignation or removal of a lawmaker.

“We have also seen so many instances of lawmakers retaining their seats after decamping to other parties without meeting the requirements of the Constitution.

“We may then ask, what is the way out? I believe that proportional representation is the way to go if we must checkmate the frosty relationship and disconnect between the party and its members in parliament as well as the unguarded acts of cross carpeting in our democracy.

“In a proportional representation system, the parties will submit a list of potential lawmakers to the election management body. There is also usually a reserve list. Thereafter, the electorate will cast votes for the contending parties. Each political party eventually gets the number of seats proportionate to the percentage of votes it gathered at the polls.”

He added that any party that secures 40 percent of votes would get 40 percent of seats, which it will now allocate to its members picked from the earlier submitted list. That way, seats truly belong to the parties.

“If a lawmaker resigns or is removed for any reason, the party will easily replace him or her from the reserve list without going through another round of primary election or bye-election by the election management body. However, to adopt proportional representation in Nigeria, the necessary legal valves should be put in place to avoid abuse and witch-hunt by the party and the executive arm,” he added.

Ekweremadu explained that the decision by the National Assembly to support the introduction of electronic voting system was aimed at ensuring a free and fair electoral process in the country.

He said political parties, including his own opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), should discard manual membership registers and embrace electronic registers and electronic voting systems to reduce pre-election disputations.

IRI’s Country Director, Sentell Barnes disclosed that the sum of $5.5 million have been earmarked for the three years long RPPP which aimed at assisting Nigerian political parties to be more representative and responsive to the citizenry.

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