Act­ing INEC chair can’t be fair to all par­ties – PPA boss

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS -

Chief Peter Ameh is the Na­tional Chair­man of the Pro­gres­sive Peo­ples Al­liance (PPA). In this in­ter­view, he speaks on the chal­lenges fac­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Nige­ria and Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Ex­cerpts:

What would you say is the ma­jor fac­tor hin­der­ing some po­lit­i­cal par­ties from mak­ing im­pact in Nige­ria?

The sys­tem has been so bat­tered that if you don’t be­long to par­ties that share money, you are noth­ing. You can look at the last gen­eral elec­tions, es­pe­cially the spend­ing strength of both the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) and the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC)! Peo­ple go di­rectly to gov­ern­ment cof­fers to take money to fund their par­ties. Many states are co­matose be­cause they mis­man­aged public funds. So, for you to say that other par­ties are not per­form­ing well is not an of­fence be­cause they have not been given the nec­es­sary ma­te­ri­als to func­tion and op­er­ate suc­cess­fully. You should even give credit to them for agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tions against all odds, de­spite the over­whelm­ing in­volve­ment of state funds in pol­i­tics.

The PDP says it won’t ac­cept re­sults of any elec­tion con­ducted un­der the present chair­man of the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC), Mrs Amina Zakari. What is your party’s po­si­tion on this is­sue?

Based on their in­ves­ti­ga­tions, they had ar­rived at a very rea­son­able con­clu­sion that Amina Zakari will not be fair to all. That is what the PDP has said. To me, that state­ment has not been proven wrong be­cause an elec­tion man­age­ment body should not have an act­ing chair­per­son. What is wrong with her name be­ing for­warded to the Coun­cil of State for de­lib­er­a­tions? What is wrong for this same name to be sent to the Na­tional Assem­bly for de­bate? These pro­cesses are laid down in the con­sti­tu­tion of Nige­ria. We should do things right.

What is your take on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Pres­i­dent Buhari and the APC?

The fact is that the pres­i­dent can­not de­void him­self from the party. The name of the pres­i­dent was not on the bal­lot box, it was the APC that was there. So, the party can­not dis­so­ci­ate it­self from the mis­takes of the pres­i­dent. They should stop play­ing games with the peo­ple. Prom­ises made must be kept. That is how you show lead­er­ship. Go­ing back to re­tract state­ments and prom­ises made dur­ing cam­paigns will lead to dis­trust be­tween the pres­i­dency, the party and the Nige­rian peo­ple.

Is your party con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing into merger with other par­ties to form a strong force ahead of the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions?

We are hav­ing dis­cus­sions with about 17 po­lit­i­cal par­ties on how best we can go into the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions. We have asked some ex­perts to study the 17 po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the is­sues from the last gen­eral elec­tions. We have asked them to do a sort of anal­y­sis on our strengths, weak­nesses, or­gan­i­sa­tion and threats and tell us how we can tackle the 2019 elec­tions. We will be a third force and make sure that we be­come what Nige­ri­ans need to grow.

Are you field­ing can­di­dates for Kogi and Bayelsa gov­er­nor­ship elec­tions?

Yes, we will def­i­nitely field can­di­dates. I am from Kogi State and my party is pre­par­ing for the elec­tion.

What are you do­ing as an op­po­si­tion party to give hope to Nige­ri­ans, es­pe­cially women?

We are re­ally ex­pand­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of women at the party level. We want women to work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with both the elec­tion man­age­ment body and other agen­cies. It is not just enough for you to have 35 per­cent af­fir­ma­tion in the air.

Do you con­sider de-reg­is­tra­tion of some po­lit­i­cal par­ties by INEC as healthy for democ­racy?

No, it is un­rea­son­able for par­ties to be de-reg­is­tered. How do you ex­pand the space? How would peo­ple like us come into the space when you have al­ready con­tracted the space to these two ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Nige­ria? That means you will shut out a lot of vi­brant peo­ple. Don’t for­get, the con­sti­tu­tion of the Fed­eral Re­pub­lic of Nige­ria says that ev­ery per­son is free to be­long to an or­gan­i­sa­tion, as­so­ci­a­tion, group or po­lit­i­cal party that will pro­tect his or her rights and in­ter­est.

Chief Peter Ameh

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