Joe Effiong, Uyo
The culture of asking aspirants to cough out millions of naira to purchase nomination forms by the political parties Nigeria is said to have eroded the authority parties should have over their members elected into government.
The immediate past chairman, House of Reps Committee on inter-parliamentary relations, Mr Sam Ikon, who said this in an interview with our correspondent in Uyo, explained that such had played out in the PDP losing the initiatives by not calling a meeting of its members on time to give a direction on those to be appointed as its principal minority officers in the House.
Ikon who is also a former speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, has therefore advised PDP to tread softly and diplomatically on the minority leadership problem in the House of Representatives if the party does not want to get its fingers further burnt, adding that the House acted according to its rule by nominating Mr Ndidi Elumelu as its minority leader because the post is not an exclusive position of the PDP as a minority party.
“But as a majority within the minority, PDP should have called a meeting of its members and read out names of those it wanted as minority leaders in the House. There might have been disagreement here and there, but at the end, there would have been realignment and agreement.
“But the party never took the initiative. I spoke with one of the members as he said the party never called a meeting to speak on the minority leadership issue. Rather it was individuals who were calling the meeting and spending their money.
“So I will advise the party to apply some level of wisdom because at this time, a lot of wisdom is needed. Let’s call a general meeting and say what or who and who we want and then see which side has the majority. This wouldn’t have happened if the party had been proactive. But we didn’t operate as a party, then we should toe that path of honour and stop rocking the boat unnecessarily,” Ikon said.
He expressed his reservations on how parties in Nigeria treat their members, which he said had given them (members) reasons to rebel against their parties.
“In South Africa and in most of the of the southern and eastern African countries, the parties are supreme and their decision must be obeyed by their members because they sponsor them and can as well withdraw their candidature and replace them in the legislature.
“But in Nigeria, your party is even the one exploiting you through sales of nomination forms at a very exorbitant cost, plus other expenses. Sometimes your party even takes you to court so that the court becomes the one that gives you the ticket of your party instead of your party itself.
“When you spend so much to buy your ticket, then the party becomes irrelevant. You can move from one party to the other because they are the same. You are not obligated to any party and it becomes funny for the party to expect loyalty from you.
“There is need to restructure the party’s organogram and operations and make electioneering less a burden on parties’ candidates,” Ikon stressed.
But another former member of the House of Reps, who represented Ikono/Ini federal constituency of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Iboro Ekanem, has said that as a party man, he would support whatever the party is doing.
“It is a norm for the party to choose its officers in the House. Femi (Gbajabiamila) himself knows because he was once in the minority party. So the PDP should be the one to choose minority leaders for the House,” Ekanem said.