“A Country’s Democracy is as Stable and Strong as its Political Parties” says Igini
Hon. Mike Igini Esq, Resident Electoral Commissioner, Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Akwa Ibom State, has stated that “a country’s democracy is as stable and strong as its political parties.”
He stated this yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State, while delivering a Public Lecture on the theme: “Engendering Issue Based Campaigns in an Electioneering Year: The Media Perspectives”.
The lecture was organized by Correspondents’ Chapel of Cross River State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), as part of activities marking “Media Week 2018”.
Igini said that whatever is said about the United States of America’s political heritage is traceable to the American Party system. He cited the Democratic Party which was formed in 1828 and the Republican Party which was formed in 1858 as examples of political parties that have sustained that heritage.
Conversely, he said that in Nigeria, “so many parties have come and gone” between 1999 till date. The Resident Electoral Commissioner added that:
“You can’t talk about a stable democracy when you have weak, anemic political parties and expect a robust and strong democracy…. How have the parties been able to form and institutionalize effective executive, legislature and judiciary? Have they been able to formulate and implement effective public policies? Are the opposition parties providing appreciable, credible alternatives to what you have?”
He challenged journalists to x-ray such issues and provide answers to them in their reportage.
Igini stated that although 68 political parties are currently registered in Nigeria, some of those parties are presenting candidates for election into high levels of governance when they have not made appreciable impacts at the Local Government levels. He enjoined all political parties to lay solid foundations at the grassroots before aspiring for INEC – conducted elections.
He lamented that: “Today it is a sad comment that the most important tier of government which is the Local Government system, has been hijacked. The Governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without exception, even though they belong to different political parties, when it comes to Local Government management and election, they worship in the same synagogue…. Today there are no elections at the Local Government level in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Hon. Mike Igini also said that, “a rigged election connotes absence of election. It is tantamount to shooting a woman at the hip.”
He described himself as a Federalist and stated that Federalism brings out our diversities. He said: “There are things that should be common to all of us. Our definition of justice must not be different according to State or Local government. What we consider as free, fair and credible elections should be same in Nigeria. INEC conducted election standards and that of Local Government should not be different.”
(See another article on theRole of the media.)
Media as Watchdogs of Society
Igini eulogized the power of the media as watchdogs of society, stating that “those who underrate the impact of the media in elections and particularly with the emergence of social media do so at their own peril….”
He enjoined the media to be “guiding ‘angels’ of some sort by educating the electorate of the long term consequences of self denial for good governance and the consequences when they sell their votes for pittance, by reminding and providing electorates with information about previous electoral promises made, kept or unfulfilled vis-à-vis new promises.”
It would be recalled that Hon. Mike Igini served as Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State before he was redeployed from the State in 2014.
Before his redeployment, it was widely reported in the media that he described the primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State as fraught with irregularities.
Also speaking at yesterday’s public lecture, Senator Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State and Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, said that Nigeria’s fate lies in the hands of the media.
Governor Ayade was represented at the event by Mrs Rosemary Archibong, Commissioner of Information in Cross River State.
He said: “There should be a search for intellectuals and not empty heads who cannot offer solutions to the challenges facing Nigeria and only the media can set up a platform for such discourse. Our fate lies in the media to provide a veritable platform for all views to be heard.”
A program of activities released by Correspondents’ Chapel indicates that “Media Week 2018” continues today with an assessment tour of some key government projects in Cross River State. An interactive session with Governor Ben Ayade is proposed for this evening. The week would be rounded off tomorrow (May 25th), with a visit to orphanage homes and a gala night.
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah