Jinadu advocates stronger internal party democracy
A Senior Non-Resident Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja, Professor Adele Jinadu, has called for the reformation of political party system in Nigeria with the aim to strengthen internal party democracy as a mechanism to ensure open, transparent, inclusive and democratic elections of party leadership and nomination processes for elective public offices.
In a paper entitled: ‘Some Conjectures and Recommendations on the 2023 General elections’, which he presented at the Special Post-mortem Roundtable on the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria, organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), in Lagos last week, the don said political parties must as well as give attention to the nomination of women and youths as candidates, equal access to leadership opportunities within party organisations.
Other recommendations he made include the need for the electoral system to accommodate more inclusiveness in legislatures; and that valid votes cast translate into legislative seats proportionally.
To achieve this, he suggested a method of First-Past-the-Post System, but modified by Proportional Representation System based on the closed party lists for elections to House of Representatives, State Houses of Assembly and local government councils only.
According to the paper, “For elections to the House of Representatives, the existing 360 seats would be retained and filled by the First-Past-The-Post system. In addition, 108 additional seats, 30 per cent of the existing 360 seats in the House of Representatives, will be created and filled through the Proportional Representation system.
“The arrangement in above will be replicated in State Assemblies and local councils throughout the federation. This implies that in each of these legislatures, additional seats representing 30 per cent of existing ones shall be created and filled through the Proportional Representation system.”
Jinadu also said the performance of political parties in an election conducted under the mixed system shall be the basis for allocating the Proportional Representation seats. “The threshold to be met by parties for sharing the Proportional Representation seats shall be the total number of valid votes cast in the entire First-Past-The-Post election divided by the number of available Proportional Representation seats for that election. This threshold will represent the minimum number of votes a party must win to be allocated a Proportional Representation seat.”
He also raised the need to provide “criteria for the production of party lists for the allocation of Proportional Representation seats in a manner that will ensure the inclusion of women and disadvantaged groups.”
According to him, “There is a need to ensure that 30 per cent of party lists under the proposed Proportional Representation system are reserved for women and two percent for physically challenged persons, without prejudice to their right to also compete for representation under the First-Past-The-Post system.”
The don also emphasised the need to dilute the violent zero-sum approach to electoral politics.
He said: “There is a need to reserve and or consider cabinet level and board appointments for political parties that secure at least 2.5 percent of National Assembly seats during the general elections,” adding that a Centre for Democratic Studies and an Electoral Offences Commission must be established.
The electoral system expert further suggested the need for legislation to guarantee the participation of civil society at relevant stages of the electoral process, including helping to educate and inform voters on the significance of elections in the consolidation of Nigeria’s young democracy.
Decrying the abuse of the power of incumbency for partisan/unfair electoral advantage, which is somehow prevalent in the country’s electoral system, Jinadu said, “The agencies under the Executive that are involved in elections shall not be used to undermine free and fair elections. Such agencies include the security bodies and the public service.
“The provisions of the Electoral Act, 2006, which prohibit the abuse of the powers of incumbency, including the misuse of official powers and resources should be strengthened and enforced.”
To further improve on the electoral system, Jinadu said there is need to unbundle the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by establishing a reorganised commission, with new mode of appointment and qualifications for its composition.
In addition, Jinadu said there is need for political parties registration and regulatory commission, electoral offences commission, constituency delimitation commission, State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), reorganise and integrate State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) into INEC.
Other recommendations he made include the establishment of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), which would provide for the appointment, control, and discipline of RECs by INEC.
On Election Dispute Adjudication, the don called for review of rules of evidence in deciding election cases to place emphasis on substantive issues raised in election petitions and not on technicalities.
The paper also noted the need to re-examine the substantial compliance principle and the use of mathematical computation (the calculation and recalculation) of votes to resolve and decide manifestly flawed elections and that all election petition cases against declared winners of executive and legislative branch elections must be concluded before they are sworn into office.
He called for the establishment of a Constitutional Court, with original jurisdiction over governorship and presidential elections petitions in the country.
According to Jinadu, “to do something different, we need to address (a) the anti-democratic diabolic politics and its facilitative toxic economic, political and socio-cultural environment that continue to diminish the feasibility of democracy and development in the country, as provided for under Chapter II of Nigeria’s Constitution; and secondly establish a National Network for the dissemination and advocacy of democracy and development, anchored on a Nightwatchman approach to routinising democratic politics, as envisioned in the epigram, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
“The aim is to interpose a civil society-led public interest agenda to seize the initiative for politics, including electoral reform from the mainstream political class and their proxies in state and society and the combination of executive and legislative officeholders, who have a conflict of interest in conspiring to prevent meaningful political reform.”
In conclusion, Jinadu said the Network should adopt a strategic plan divided into a) short-to-medium term covering the 2023-2027 electoral cycle, to pursue, among other political reform, electoral reforms for a long-term plan beyond 2027 to routinize permanent and sustained advocacy for sustainable democracy and development in the country, in line with Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution