The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Finance Committee, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State yesterday said the party would under study how the Democratic and RepublicanParties in the United States of America; the Labour and Conservative Parties in the United Kingdom; and South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) fund their parties to enable the PDP overcome its financial needs.
Also, the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, while inaugurating the 20-man committee, charged it to address all the financial needs of the party, including ensuring the completion of the new national secretariat of the party.
Tukur, who urged the committee to ensure that all financial needs of the party were met, appealed to all PDP members to support the works of the committee to enable it support the administration of the party.
But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday warned that it would not condone excessive spending by political parties and politicians during campaigns because of its debilitating effects on the nation’s fledgling democracy.
Speaking at the inauguration, especially on the need for the committee to understudy political parties in other countries of the world, Akpabio said it was to enable the committee come up with a comprehensive strategy that would be acceptable to the party, pointing out that the committee’s inauguration was a turning point for the PDP.
According to him, “my choice as a member and chairman of this national finance committee is uncommon and the finance of PDP as a party will be uncommonly transformed.”
He explained further that PDP required funds to complete its ongoing new party secretariat edifice in Abuja as well as invest future funds, which may accrue from the party supporters, stressing that PDP was going to mobilise funds for the party within the ambit of the law and the party’s constitution.
Akpabio, while expressing optimism over the success of the committee, added that the PDP was the only party that was devoid of ethnic and regional coloration among other political parties in the country.
“Look at our opponents they are always changing name, and they may change to panadol in 2015,” he said.
He assured party faithful that at the end of the day, the lack of finance factor affecting the party would be a thing of the past, especially with the involvement of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who is a member of the committee.
“We extend our appreciation to the President for accepting us and the confidence repose in all the members,” he added.
Akpabio, who had earlier stated that elections in Nigeria were won at the local and state levels, said the mission of politicians in Abuja was to prepare the ground for such victories.
“Elections in Nigeria are won at local and state level, our mission in Abuja is to prepare the ground,” he said.
On the criticisms of the opposition political parties against PDP, Akpabio stated that the PDP remained the only political party since its registration by the INEC, explaining that it was for this reason that PDP remains a party of choice for all Nigerians.
In another development, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who was represented by the National Commissioner, Dr. Ahmed Wali, at the presentation of a book entitled: 'State and Political Participation: Women in Nigeria 2011 Elections', said the commission had already put in place structures to monitor campaign funding, which he stated, was skyrocketing with each passing day.
“INEC is putting up a structure to monitor campaign funding so as to make it possible for everybody who wants to participate to have the opportunity to do so. The issue of heavy spending in elections is certainly a problem which I am happy INEC is already addressing,” Jega stated.
The INEC chairman said the impact of the fund could only be determined by the availability of facts, arguing that, “whether these initiatives and promptings produce the desired outcomes of enlisting better women’s participation in the electoral process can only be borne out by facts.”
Jega, who appealed to all stakeholders in the Nigerian political arena to assist the commission by playing to the rules started that there is no way INEC alone will achieve the desired result if the other stakeholders decide not to play by the rules.
He assured Nigerians that INEC would be neutral as an electoral body to ensure that there would be free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria, compared to other civilised countries.
The book written by INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Lai Olorode, and published by the Friedrich Ebert Siftung, was presented to the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), INEC, political parties and the media, who debated on the role of women in the Nigerian political setting.
Earlier in her remarks, the book reviewer and human rights activist, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, said there were various issues that make it difficult for women in Nigeria to venture into politics including the high campaign funding that seems to have become the norm of the day.
Apart from the huge financial implications, Okei-Odumakin said the African culture, tends to portray women as people that could be seen and not heard, adding that most people do see female politicians as not decent and even wayward.
On her part, Resident Representative of Friedrich Ebert Siftung, Mrs. Seija Sturies, said the organisation would continue to work with the electoral body in the quest to improve on the electoral system.
Equally, it was gathered that over 117 female political candidates benefitted from the N100 million Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Trust Funds for women seeking political participation in the 2011 general election.
This was disclosed by Olurode, who is also the chairman of the Electoral Institute in his book: 'State and Political Participation: Women in Nigeria’s 2011 Elections.'
He said: “Up to date, about 117 female candidates have drawn from the fund – women aspiring to the office of the president, governorship or deputy as well as senatorial candidates drew up to N500,000, House of Representatives aspirants drew N350,000; and state house of assembly N250,000. The beneficiaries cut across party lines and states.”
He further said: “Going by a comparative statistics of women contestants in the 2007 and 2011 general elections, there was an impressive rise in the number of women seeking competitive elective positions. In 2007, only 516 women sought elective positions to state house of assembly, the national assembly, governorship and the presidency, whereas in 2011, 921women contested elections into those offices, an increase of 78 per cent over the same period, male contestants increased by just 4.3 per cent.
“Generally, the percentage increase in the number of candidates for the overall population was only 8.4 per cent during the period. By far, women were keener at becoming governors in the 201 general elections. Election into that office witnessed an upsurge of women contestants by over 400 per cent increase-the highest for any office contested for by women in 2011.”
Meanwhile, a group, New Nigeria Initiative for Better Leadership, has described the recent verdict handed down by Justice Elvis Chukwu of the federal high court in Abuja,