The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has stated that it is no more fashionable for the Federal Government to fund political parties at this critical period of Nigeria’s democratic advancement.
Gbajabiamila pointed out that using the government’s funds to run parties is an indirect invitation for it to assume control of the parties by dictating choices and policies that might conflict with the tenets of democracy.
The Speaker, while noting that the international best practice is for parties to be self-funded, added that using public funds would also lead to the proliferation of parties, stressing that people would simply abuse the process by registering hundreds of parties in the hope of cashing out on free government money.
Gbajabiamila made this known while receiving a delegation of the Inter-Party Advisory Council at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja on Wednesday, according to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi.
The statement was titled, ‘Why Govt Won’t Fund Political Parties – Gbajabiamila…Says It’s Late to Propose Fresh Amendments to Electoral Act…Speaker Urges Aggrieved Persons to Approach Court.’
The Speaker said, “I am not sure how many countries fund their political parties; we will have to do research and to be sure that it’s international best practice. Government is an interested party; if it will be providing the funds, that will also mean they can compromise the system. There is also proliferation (of parties) that will become a problem if the government begins to fund the parties since there will be free money.”
Speaking on the requests for fresh amendments to the Electoral Act 2022, Gbajabiamila said it was not advisable to do so a few months before the 2023 general elections.
According to him, making new amendments to the Act during this period could disorganise the plans for the polls, create unnecessary tension in the polity and raise credibility questions.
The Speaker noted that the safest route would be to further amend the Act after the elections if a need arose or the aggrieved persons approach the judiciary to seek an interpretation of any contentious provisions.
Gbajabiamila called for patience, urging parties to seize the opportunity of the upcoming polls to fully test the Act and determine the success of innovations such as the electronic transmission of results, and the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, among others. He added that upon a successful poll, other innovations such as electronic collation of results and Diaspora voting could also be considered.
National Chairman of Inter-party Advisory Committee, Sani Yabagi, who led the delegation, had said the purpose of the visit was to seek synergy and a good working relationship between IPAC and the National Assembly.