The Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ivara Esu, on Wednesday, sought a reduction in the number of the existing political parties in the country.
Esu said this in Calabar during the public hearing of the South-South states by the Presidential Committee on Electoral Reforms led by Senator Ken Nnamani.
The public hearing, which had inputs from political stakeholders in states across the South-South region, was dominated by stakeholders from the host state, Cross River.
The deputy governor, who stood in for Governor Ben Ayade, wondered why only a few parties made impacts during elections despite the availability of many parties in the country.
He said, “Why do we have a long list of political parties, whereas when elections are held you only have two or three political parties making impacts?”
Esu, however, listed the areas to be amended in the ongoing electoral reforms to include a reduction in the number of political parties, stiff penalties for politicians defecting from one party to another and an amendment of the electronic voting system, among others.
“There is also the issue of defection. To me, that is electoral fraud. You cannot win an election on one platform and choose to defect to another platform,” he said.
Etu also said that Nigeria was better in terms of democratic developments when compared with Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and other Third World nations where their leaders had remained in office for too long.
He said that under the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria, no president could cling on to power for more than the stipulated number of years.
He lambasted the presidents of Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, among others, for clinging to power for too long, saying that the phenomenon was a blot on the countries’ democratic development.
He said, “If we look at Nigeria, we would say we have done well compared with other Third World nations. We are not like Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and others, where we have leaders that will cling to power. What kind of countries are those?”
Various stakeholders, including the representatives of political parties and election monitors called for stiffer penalties for electoral offenders.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, who represented the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the committee was inaugurated to address the grey areas in the electoral process.
He said, “We have seen conflicting judgments by appellate courts on electoral matters. This committee is meant to sort out such areas.”