The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has blamed the withdrawal of Federal Government subventions to political parties on abuse of the funds by party leaders.
Ekweremadu said this while hosting the members of the Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria who visited him, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, on Sunday.
He said, “Giving subvention to political parties was the case in the past but we had to amend the constitution to remove that; the reason being that it was thoroughly abused by some people. They will register a political party and wait for election; government gives them subvention, then they will put it in their pockets and make no efforts to win. To them, political parties are platforms for making cool money from the government.”
The lawmaker, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, stated that instead of the government funding the parties, the parties should agitate for the introduction of proportional representation to widen political representation in the legislature, which would, in turn, help smaller political parties to thrive.
“When this is done, instead of first-past-the-post system where a party that polls the highest number of votes even by a single vote takes the parliamentary seat, while the other parties go home empty-handed no matter how well they performed, parties will now be allocated parliamentary seats based on the percentage of the total votes they garnered in an election.
“That way, smaller parties will be accommodated in the parliament. They will know that they will not go empty-handed if they work hard,” Ekweremadu added.
The Deputy Senate President also said ‘high-level consultations’ were ongoing to obtain the views of critical stakeholders about the ongoing constitution review.
This, he said, would ensure a smooth sail of the constitution amendment exercise and an outcome that would be in tune with the aspirations of Nigerians.
Ekweremadu said, “For instance, we have gone to the judiciary; we have gone to the Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders, asking them to express their views. We got a lot of responses. So, we are going ahead, and your visit today will help to shape the final document, which we will present to the Senate.”
He stressed that the current consultations would lead to a joint retreat in a few weeks to enable the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives’ Committees on Constitution Review to reach a consensus on the issues slated for amendment.
The National Chairman of IPAC, Mr Mohammed Nalado, in his remarks, said the body was making efforts, with the support of the International Republican Institute, United States Aid Agency, Political Party Policy and Leadership Development Centre, among others, to faciliate electoral reforms that would guarantee free, fair and credible electoral processes.