***Condemns Out Come Of Parties Congresses/Primaries, Probes Finances Of Parties

By IFEYINWA IKE, Abuja

The Nigeria’s House of Representatives has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Opposition Parties: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)and other political parties; of swimming in corruption.

Consequently, the House constituted an ad hoc committee to probe electoral breaches, income and expenditures of APC, PDP and others political parties in Nigeria.

The House Thursday expressed concern over failure of most members to secure a return ticket from their respective political parties and attributed it to irregularities and corruption which characterised the primary elections of parties.

Members of the ruling APC  however, accused the party National Leadership as the mastermind of the atrocities.

The lawmakers lamented that most Governors on the platforms of the party also hijacked the party machineries during the primary elections to favour their candidates.

They alleged that internal party democracy did not follow due process during the party primary elections.

The lawmakers raised alarm over the catastrophe that may befall Nigeria’s democracy should National Assembly continue to dwell on dictates of the electoral Act and the constitution of the country.

These concerns were expressed  sequel to a motion sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Chika of APC, Niger State titled “The conduct of congress/primary by political parties to nominate candidate to contest the various position in 2019 General Election”.

The motion alleged an affront and subversion of the electoral laws during party primary election.

Chika  said that deliberate moves were made by some person who think they own the state to deny him and other true Democrats ticket.

He said: “The House is aware that INEC by the provision of the Electoral Act is mandated to supervise All congresses of political parties;

“Notes that the Congresses/primaries of All Political Parties are
regulated by the constitution of the parties and electoral Act;

“Worried by widespread report of irregularities that attended the
congresses of the parties held between September and the first week of October, 2018.

“Disturbed that many of the parties in many states neglected or failed to adhere to the provision of both the constitution of their parties and the Electoral Act with regard to the holding of primaries;

“Further disturbed that some of the parties brazenly refused to hold
primaries in contravention of section 87 (10) of the Electoral Act,
which make it mandatory for parties to hold primaries, thereby leading to crisis in some state chapters of political parties”.

He expressed concern that Governors in many states imposed their preferred candidates on the parties and ensure that some aspirants were denied the right to participate or were shortchanged in the elections after paying huge amounts to obtain nomination forms;

He said the House is “Further concerned that if legislative measures are not adopted to address this issue, the National Assembly, may in the nearest future be the assemblage of Governors stooges to the detriment of our democracy and the interest of the electorates.

“Disturbed that the act of selling nomination forms to aspirants at
exorbitant rates even when the leaders of the parties had
pre-determined the winner amounts to injustice and corruption;

“Further disturbed that in some cases even where clear winners emerged in the primaries, the result were altered and other persons declared winners and made the flag bearers of the parties in such contest thereby shortchanging the Democratic will of the electorates and violating the law; particular section 87 (3and 8) 0f the electoral
act;”

Hon. Chika urged the House to constitute an adhoc committee to investigate the violation of electoral Act by political parties with the collusion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and also ascertain the income and expenses of the major political parties in the last fours years in line with section 226 of the constitution for the good of the country.

Contributing to the motion, Hon Musa Soba from Kaduna expressed fears that with the level of impunity in the ruling party, it  is possible that President Muhammadu Buhari may agree to concede defeat like former President Goodluck Jonathan did in 2015.

According to him, the impunity in the APC  “is being supported by Governors who believe we must do their bidding. The 2019 election must be credible, free, fair and rancour free. I do not think that with what we have now, the elections may be free as in 2015 when a sitting president conceded defeat.”

Also, Hon. Lawal Abubakar from Adamawa said that “What we are witnessing in APC is a battle between the rule of law and impunity. We have over 200 of post-election cases in APC. The amount of money has accumulated, may be, that’s what gave them the courage to rig.”

Hon. Mark Gbilah from Benue State said that political party system in Nigeria is swimming in corruption  called for independent candidacy.

“We are running a system of political party where from the grassroots corruption is entrenched. The onus now comes back to the national assembly. What are we going to do to our political system? The responsibility for the national assembly is about what we are going to do. Nigerians have never been provided with the opportunity to choose who it is that will represent them. Independent candidacy is the only solution,” he said.

Hon. Hassan Saleh (PDP) from Benue State said that though the issue was not peculiar to APC, it was however more pronounced in the party.

“The problem is not peculiar with APC but however theirs is so, so prominent. What is important is for us to really look at our electoral process. We cannot as a people continue like this. They are talking about fighting corruption but the ruling party is the citadel of corruption”, he said.

On her own part, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje (PDP), Abia State charged political parties to respect their respective constitution.

“From 1999, we called our democracy a nascent democracy. The leadership is not what we deserve but a consequence of corruption. I am of the PDP, we pride ourselves. Political parties must respect their constitution”, she said.

In the same vein,  Segius Ogun noted that the next general election may be under threat if nothing was done.

“With this system, how can we expect a free and fair election in 2019?