Delivering a paper as part of the public lecture series of the Department of Political Science at the University of Ibadan in Ibadan on Wednesday, the former Vice President said incumbents seeking re-election must use their own resources to achieve such ambition instead of taking advantage of their access to state funds.
He also recommended a change in the manner of the appointment and tenure of the chairman and commissioners of the electoral umpire, INEC. According to him, this change might help to dilute the role and control by sitting Presidents.
On funding, he said INEC should be less dependent on the government in power. Instead, he recommended that the funding should come from consolidated revenue fund to protect INEC’s independence.
The former Vice President also called for effective monitoring of political parties by INEC to ensure they conform with the provisions of the electoral laws.
He explained that INEC should be empowered to monitor political parties “for the next 15 or 20 years to ensure they obey the laws of the land, including their own constitutions and guidelines.”
Atiku also reiterated his previous position that anyone, whose election is being challenged in courts, should not be allowed to assume office until those litigations are decisively resolved by the courts. This, he said, would be a safeguard against fraud by those being challenged in court.
To achieve free and fair election, he advised that security agencies should be reformed to make them neutral.
Also Atiku Abubakar criticized Nigeria’s existing political parties for paying lip service to internal democracy, which he described as a major component of democratic practice.
In true democratic practice, he said, the people should be governed by laws rather than the whims and caprices of those in power.
He particularly spotlighted the lack of internal democracy among the ruling party and the opposition parties as one of the downsides of Nigeria’s current democratic order.
He wondered why Nigeria’s political parties are either afraid or allergic to internal democratic practices which offered members the full freedom to elect their leaders.
The former Vice President said the culture of the imposition of candidates and the impunity that goes with it was a hang-over from military mentality.
Atiku said those who benefitted from the culture of imposition are less likely to fight against such undemocratic practice.
Relying on article 16 of the 1999 PDP Constitution, which recommended election as the basis of producing leaders, the former Vice President said this article appeared to have been abandoned in the election of officers of the party.
According to Atiku, “consensus”, “affirmation” or such other “election – avoiding contraption” contradict Section 223 of the Nigerian Constitution, which insists on the election of party leaders on democratic basis.
He argued that even where the courts affirmed the provisions if the constitution in this regard, party leaders conveniently ignored such court orders in favor of “affirmation or consensus” at the party conventions.
He expressed concern at a situation where a political party is left at the mercy of sitting President who enslaves every member to his will and removes any chairman who is not ready to bend to his will.
The Turaki Adamawa said while there was nothing wrong for political parties to field candidates for offices, such candidates should be allowed to emerge through transparent elective process instead of letting the interest of the man with executive power to browbeat members into submission.
Describing the imposition of candidates as a recipe for rigging, Atiku said the unpopular candidates might fight hard to subvert the will of the people to get power at all costs.