DEPUTY President of the Senate,
Ike Ekweremadu, has blamed
the withdrawal of government
subventions for political parties
on abuse, noting that it was still
inadvisable to reintroduce it.
Ekweremadu also said that high
level consultations were in top
gear to obtain the views of critical
stakeholders about the ongoing
constitution review.
He spoke when the Inter-Party
Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC)
visited him at the weekend on the
ongoing constitution amendment.
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 register a political party
and wait for election. Government
gives them subvention, then they
put it in their pockets and make
no efforts to win. To them, political
parties are platforms for making
cool money from the government”.
Rather than government funding, Ekweremadu urged political parties
to 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 pulls the highest number
of votes, even by a single vote,
takes the parliamentary seat, while
the other parties go home emptyhanded,
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”,
he added.
Meanwhile, he said the National
Assembly was holding consultations
with some critical stakeholders
to ensure a smooth sail of the
constitution amendment exercise
and an outcome that will be tune
with the aspirations of Nigerians.
“For instance, we have gone to
the judiciary. We have gone to the
Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) 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 continued.
Ekweremadu, who is also the
Chairman, Senate Committee on
Constitution Review, said that,
the current consultations would
culminate in a joint retreat in a few
weeks to enable members of the
Senate and House Committees
on Constitution Review to reach
consensus on issues slated for
amendment.
He said that representatives of the
State Houses of Assembly would be
part of the retreat to arm them with
firsthand knowledge of the thrusts
of the proposed amendments ahead
of the transmission of the Alteration
Bills to them for approval.
He explained that the current
exercise drew substantially from
the failed Fourth Alteration Bill,
and that proposed amendments
would be drafted into several
Alteration Bills to avoid a
situation where the rejection of
one amendment could lead to the
death of the entire amendments.
Earlier in his address, the
National Chairman of IPAC,
Hon. Mohammed Nalado, said
IPAC was making efforts, with
the support of the International
Republican Institute (IRI), United
States Aid Agency (USAID),
Political Party Policy and
Leadership Development Centre,
among others, to faciliate electoral
reforms that would guarantee
free, fair, credible and transparent
electoral process.
It also requested the National
Assembly to consider amending
the constitution to reintroduce
government funding of political
parties, reduction of age limit for
elections, and cause persons who
cross-carpet to lose their seats.

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