NIGERIA: Committee Seeks Ban on Consensus Arrangement

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As the committees of the National Conference entered the second day of their deliberations Wednesday, majority of the delegates in the Political Parties and Electoral Reforms Committee have resolved to push for an outright ban on adoption of consensus by political parties in choosing candidates for elections.
The delegates unanimously agreed that the use of consensus arrangement by political parties in choosing candidates for elective posts was becoming inimical to true democratic practice and should be jettisoned.
The Co-chairman of the Committee, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, who coordinated the proceedings along with Senator Ken Nnamani expressed concern over the lack of a structured method of funding political parties, which he said has enabled some governors to try to hijack the parties.
However, the committee which is sitting at the NICON Luxury Hotel, unanimously adopted the position that all defectors, including the legislators and executive must lose their seats when they cross-carpet to other political parties.
Before now, defecting elected executives were exempted from this rule enunciated by the subsisting Electoral Act 2011 as Amended. Though the resolutions were still at the committee stage, this position was seen as a strong signal to intending defectors among the contending parties.
It has also added another dimension to the brewing tension in the face-off between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and scores of its House of Representatives members who defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC), a scenario which a recent court ruling had frowned at.
Chief Segun Osoba, a conference delegate and member of the Committee on Political Parties took a swipe to all political parties, including his party, the APC, accusing them of impunity.
On the issue of reforms of the electoral system, Ayu said the committee can only make real progress in its assignment if the secretariat supplies it with copies of the electoral reform report by the Justice Muhammed Uwais committee.
"We ask the secretariat to give us the Uwais Electoral Reform report. I do not know why we should be seeking a fundamental document that will help us do the work. We cannot be groping in the dark nor are we expected to reinvent the will," he said.
All the delegates who spoke on the issue of adoption of consensus candidates by parties condemned the idea, saying it had almost ruined parties’ internal democracy. They agreed that recommendations should be made to discourage the practices through legal sanctions.
Nnamani described the use of consensus, concessions and caucus as the height of fraud. He said parties must be made to adhere strictly to the Electoral Act and the Constitution, which do not recognise anything consensus.
"Everybody must surrender to use of voting to resolve electoral issues. If we stop these practice we would have restored the internal democracy in our parties, " he said.
Another delegate, Kalifa Yusuf said consensus was doing a lot of damage to internal democratic practice of parties.
"Right now, what is happening is that parties organs are being abused. We should try and discourage this word consensus,” he said.
The issue of funding was also discussed with the committee expressing support for the constitutional provision that bares parties from getting funding from government.
They agreed that government should hands off funding of political parties and instead recommended that parties should undertake alternative means in raising their funds through levies, seminars and donations.
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