APC Now A Party Of Bullies, Says Atiku

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President,Atiku Abubakar, has scolded the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the party’s failure to organise statutory meetings for the organs of the party, stressing that lack of internal democracy has made APC and other parties bullying and undemocratic.
Atiku, who spoke at the 2nd Inter Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC) Annual Conference 2017 on Internal Party Democracy, specifically threw a jab at the APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Shaibu Lawal, who represented the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun reminding him that he was referring to the governing party.
His words: “The issue of internal democracy in our political parties has been with us for a long time, indeed since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999. In long-established democracies those statements would seem trite. But I recognise that our democracy is young, and our parties are also rather young.
“As a result, they are still wrestling with issues of party building, party structures, internal democracy and the nature of the relationship between parties and members, parties and legislatures and parties and government as well as among parties themselves.
“We had a very long period of authoritarian rule in Nigeria, ending in 1999. The legacy of that period is still with us as can be seen in our various governance institutions. Indeed even elements of that authoritarian past still wield power and influence in our country as we try to transition from that legacy.
“Also the structure of our economy is such that the state remains the most important source of economic opportunity. This heightens the struggle for state power and helps to shape the relationship between parties and members, among parties and among the various arms of government.
“It is, therefore, a huge challenge to democratize governance and the political parties in our country. But, as the theme of this conference makes clear, internal democracy in our political parties is very important for the parties, their members and for the country.
“The absence of internal democracy in our parties is a major reason our democracy remains fragile and why the quality of leadership that we produce has not matched our expectations and the challenges facing us as a nation. It is also one of the reasons it has been very difficult to hold leaders to account. Internal party democracy is important enough that it was one of the areas addressed by the Electoral Reform Committee headed by Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais many years ago.
“But we know that power wielders hardly voluntarily enlarge the democratic space. That is why I’ve often opined that internal party democracy will only come with genuine electoral reforms in the country. Such reforms, broadly along the Justice Uwais Committee Recommendations, which will further strengthen the independence of INEC and ensure that votes count, will encourage parties to field popular candidates in elections.
“And that in turn will encourage parties to allow internal democracy so members have the freedom to choose and express their opinions. Thus the role of godfathers and executive intrusion in the affairs of parties and elections will be diminished.”


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