If indications given by Senate President David Mark is anything to go by, Nigeria may soon end up with far lesser number of political parties than the present 57.
Mark, at a conference on “Party Politics in Nigeria and Lobbying, the Lobbyist and the Legislature”, in Abuja Monday, decried the proliferation of parties in the country, which he said was driven by the quest of their promoters to benefit from the grants to political parties as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
The conference, organised by the National Institute of Legislative Studies, was convened to address the problem of internal party discipline and cohesion and how to resolve the issue of intra and inter-party squabbles, among others.
In his comments, the senate president pointed out that many of the political parties will not be able to survive without the financial subventions which the 1999 Constitution, before its amendment, guaranteed them.
“We know that in reality, most of our political parties are fledgling and hardly able to stand on their feet. Many exist mainly on paper, and were floated to attract the financial subventions which the 1999 Constitution hitherto guaranteed them, before it was amended,” he added.
Mark aslo identified funding as one of the biggest problems facing political parties in the country, stressing that this has paved the way for the rich to hijack the parties.
“A situation where a handful of individuals tend to fund the party is not good for democracy. Like the saying goes, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
I believe that all Nigerians, no matter how small, should contribute to the running of political parties. There are political parties in this country where people are called national leader; I don’t know where that fits in the constitution of the party.
“He is not the chairman of the party, not the chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT). He is simply a national leader and takes precedence over every other person in the party.
“He is simply a national leader; he owns the political party. Such a situation cannot augur well for our democratic parties” he explained.
Mark cited internal convulsions, lack of cohesion, indiscipline and a glaring absence of internal democracy as some of the threats to political parties especially among the big ones, which control various executive and legislative arms of government.