The former Nigerian Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, advocated for a two party system in Nigeria.
Mr. Abubakar, who was the guest lecturer at a public lecture organised by the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan as part of activities marking its 50th anniversary, said the development portends a virile future for the nation’s democracy.
“I am pleased that progress is being made in that regard with the recent emergence of the All Progressive Congress, APC”, he said while delivering the lecture titled “Thoughts on Internal Democracy in Nigerian Political Parties: Challenges and Strategies”.
The former Vice President said that he had always advocated two-party system for Nigeria, adding that it is the only way to guarantee a formidable opposition that will always put the ruling party on its toes.
Besides, Mr. Atiku added, two-party system will produce political parties that will have membership across the various regional, ethnic and religious fault-lines.
“It is also the only guarantee of a viable alternative to the ruling party, which is critical for keeping the ruling party from taking the electorate for granted,” he said.
He advocated for a genuine electoral reform saying it is the only way to promote internal democracy.
“The reforms will not only seek to bring about direct changes in the way the parties conduct their affairs, but change the electoral system in a manner that will leave the political parties little choice but to promote internal democracy as a survival strategy,” he said.
He said part of the reform must include a departure from the past in the manner of the appointment and tenure of the Chairman and Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure independence of control from any sitting president.
In addition, he said, the reform must ensure that funding of the electoral umpire should be from the first line charge of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to make it less dependent on the government in power.
He spoke against the implication of allowing the incumbent to use the state resources to fund re-election campaign, and canvassed a ban on the incumbents’ access to state resources for partisan purposes, including electioneering campaigns.
“Where such use is unavoidable such as the use by the president of the presidential aircraft, the cost must be borne by the incumbent’s party. This is how it is done in real democracies,” he said.
He also wanted an effective monitoring of parties to ensure conformity with the letter and spirit of electoral laws.
He said this “might include time-bound intrusive legislative changes empowering the INEC to intrusively monitor parties for the next 15 or 20 years to ensure that they obey the laws of the land, including their own constitutions and guidelines”.
Mr. Abubakar also called on Nigerians to take effective steps towards making their votes count in every election, insisting that such courage is the only way to force parties to field popular candidates.
The Head of the Department of Political science, Osisioma Nwolise, also called for urgent reforms in political parties operating in Nigeria.