The Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara has said that the nation’s political parties, including the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and others are weak, unstable, lacking functional party apparatus, and also suffering from low organizational capacity and internal democracy.
He said this yesterday in Abuja at two-day retreat organised by the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre (PPLPDC) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) themed, “The Dynamics of Managing Political Parties Professionally”.
He said it is a political malpractice for any elected government to govern without making reference to the manifesto which the party placed before the electorates and which form the basis for their election.
Dogara represented by the House Minority Whip Hon. Yakubu Umar Barde said parties must ensure that they relate their manifestos to a strategic framework which is hooked to the development vision of the nation.
He said weak parties cannot support democracy as political parties are expected to serve many important functions to bring about good governance.
“For political parties to effectively play the central role in a democratic representation, they must be managed and operated in such a manner as to establish trust among the electorates. In Africa and Nigeria in particular, political parties are weak, lacking not only a stable and functioning party apparatus, but also a clear programmatic appeal.
“Such weak political parties cannot support democracy as parties are expected to serve many important functions, including citizen Mobilization, interest aggregation, public policy formulation, leadership recruitment and government Organisation,” the Speaker said.
He also listed challenges of individual party capacity saying these include lack of an inclusive and research based policy and manifesto development process that provides a clear policy framework for them to govern, lack of ideological or institutional identities, and limited competence in research and analysis that looks at their own performance and supports clear plans and strategies for building the party.
“It is important that we organize our political parties along the lines of proper functioning bureaucracies, set up functional organizational structures and hire professionals to run the administrative aspects of the parties we support party leadership in the general running of our parties,” he said.
On his part the Acting Director General of NIPSS, Jonathan Mela Juma said the retreat was organised to enhance the competitiveness and effectiveness of players especially political parties in a multi-party political dispensation, and that it is only in this way that opposition parties can be competitive and the ruling party sustainable when they loss power.
Senate President Bukola Saraki on his part advocated for inclusiveness in the management of political parties in the country, saying there was the need to bring vulnerable groups in political management on board in the interest if the nation’s democracy.
Represented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Abdullahi Sani, the Senate President said “We must appreciate and understand the roles of political parties in a democratic society like Nigeria. Since our return to democracy in 1999, Nigeria has registered hundreds of political parties which are platforms for seeking political offices as proscribed by the 1999 constitution.
“Many have argued that the parties have adopted an elite structure aimed at checkmating the influence of the masses. I cannot say this is further from the truth. This is because participation is the key ingredient for acknowledgement or acceptance. In other to strengthen our democracy and make it more representative our demographic spread, it is important that we work to actively bring in more vulnerable and underrepresented groups to actively participate in the political system.”