* Wants parties to ditch indirect primaries for true candidates
By Teddy Nwanunobi
Abuja (Sundiata Post) — Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday, called for active interaction between the ruling party, legislature and executive, if the party intends to succeed in living up to its promises in its manifestos.
The Speaker, who made this known when he received a delegation from the International Republican Institute (IRI) in the National Assembly, also stressed that until the use of indirect primaries by political parties for selecting flagbearers is jettisoned, the hope of having true representation of the will of the people will not be achieved.
He also noted that political parties are only active in Nigeria during election periods, since all politicians seeking offices are mandated to run on party platforms, but once elections are won, in most cases, the party becomes an appendage of those in executive, who assumes control of its activities.
“Obviously, as they say, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
“Political parties manifestos are jettisoned, and there are no effective linkages between those in government and the party.
“And the party, because of those, who hold the reins of power, is unable to rein them in terms of enforcing what they sold out to the public as their manifesto.
“So, it is very important that we have an opportunity to re-examine the role of caucuses, the role of party leadership in the legislature, in the executive, and in the party itself,” he said
Dogara also explained that since party faithful will accept whoever the party fields out of loyalty, unpopular candidates are accepted and voted for in the elections, against their will.
“In most cases, indirect primaries give rise to candidates that are not popular. In the sense that they are elected as delegates to get the ticket and to run on the political party’s platform and since it is an indirect election, delegates are easily manipulated.
“At the end of the day, since most people vote along party lines, if the process of producing candidates who run on political parties platform are not transparent, are not all inclusive, it is actually the delegates that are electing the person who will represent the generality of the people, as against someone with acceptability and kind of clout required to get the ticket,” he stated.
Earlier, Sentell Barnes, Country Director, IRI, whose delegation was led by the Director General of National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), Dr. Ladi Hamalai, informed the Speaker that the Institute is organising a workshop, which will focus on strengthening intra-party communication and the role that legislative caucuses play in moving along the party manifestos and party policies.
Barnes also added that the IRI, which has worked with political parties in US and UK to address gaps and deficiencies that exist in party/legislature relationship, seeks to also strengthen the role of leaders of caucuses and political parties.
“We truly believe that if you strengthen the way leaders come through the party process and how the party communicates with the leaders, then you will in turn strengthen the democratic process and also strengthen the government process,” Barnes stated.