EMEKA NZE examines role of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Nigeria’s democracy especially with its position at the third quarterly consultative meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission
Nigerians, to say the least, are stiff worried about reactionary role of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), in the country’s democracy, especially, in regulating the conduct of the political parties as it is supposed to do.
IPAC’s position on conflicting orders, judgements
At the last third quarterly Consultative meeting with stakeholders, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) complained of the conduct the parties in rushing to the court of coordinate jurisdiction to obtain an orders or judgements which it said was ‘making its job difficult.’
Rather than addressing the issue and using instrument of the law to warn his co-party chairmen, secretaries and other party executives to desist from such act or use their offices to minimise litigations in the nominations of candidates, IPAC chairman, Leonard Nzenwa, who acknowledged the problem jumped the gun and began to take a swipe on the judiciary as if the judiciary is guilty of begging the political parties to come with their problems.
He said: “The Council is also putting on record that we are deeply concerned with every other stakeholders’ misgivings about the troubling issue of internal party democracy and how instead of abating we seem to have driven neck deep into it to the point where the judiciary have not only become stand-in cheerleaders to all the anti-democratic shenanigans buffeting the political parties in Nigeria but our learned friends, the lawyers in their acts are in inexorably driving the death nail to coffins of progress of political parties in the country.”
He further noted that “conflicting judgments from Court of competent jurisdiction in the country on political matters have become embarrassing and theatrical.
“The pillar to post legal assault on one another and forum shopping by litigants and lawyers is not helping our political processes neither is it conferring any level of dignity on our democratic journey.”
He noted that “Indeed, we have looked at ourselves in the mirror and done deep introspection that we as political parties can do better than we are currently doing. No entity or individual would make any meaningful progress when pulled on all sides by legal ambush as currently faced by many political parties and the Commission. At the last count, at it relates to Anambra polls alone are over 30 cases at different courts for adjudication.
“It’s our greatest desire, even as we apply our greatest might to steer clear of litigation as its proven over time that it has neither helped the growth of our nascent democracy or positioned our political parties to be effective drivers of democracy and the culture it needs to grow it.”
Where lies IPAC’s powers of endorsement
From the foregoing, it is very clear that IPAC lacks the necessary instrument to enforce its desires. When Nzenwa talked about their greatest might, Nigerians are confused whether the might being referred to, is enshrined in the parties’ constitutions to enforce that parties should no longer opt for litigation to nominate their candidates.
Even if IPAC had the legal instrument, does it have the capacity to enforce it on political parties. At the last count, the tenure of every IPAC executive is a renewable one year. The question on lips of analysts is when will a party chairman finish with the internal problems of his party to now begin to think of the problems of other parties?
IPAC condemns NASS for non passage of clause 52(3)
Again IPAC condemned the National Assembly for their stance on the electronic transmission of election results when it said:
“It is 52 days today that the Senate anchoring on Clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill rejected the most crucial legislative instrument that would not only have altered the way elections are conducted in the country but also helped to stop elections rigging and other forms of manipulation of election results. I refer to the rejection of electronic transfer of election results by the National Assembly.
“On their part, members of the House of Representatives did not fair better as their own form of rejection of the bill bespoke of a class of Nigerians that seem not to find anything good about institution of credible mechanism to drive free and inclusive elections in the country.
“Outrage over rejection of electronic transfer of election results bill that would have motivated the Commission and the political parties to do more which is still smouldering in the country is understandably.
“But we are glad that the bill is still within the concave of the National Assembly for harmonisation by both chambers and urge all stakeholders to still persuade our elected representatives to listen to the voice of the people and support electronic transfer of election results.
Has IPAC persuaded its members on INEC’s policies?
It is not in doubt that it is an indispensable part of democracy for the lawmakers to be in touch with their parties before taking a stand on a national issue such as electronic results transmission. Nigerians wonder whether the legislators elected on the platform of these parties, one of which is Nzenwa’s party, did not consult their parties’ leaderships before taking the stand against electronic transmission of election results.
Nigerians are of the belief that if the legislators acted on their individual whims, it implied that IPAC an umbrella body of political parties failed to do the job of persuading legislators elected on their platform to pass the clause which emanated from INEC.
It is heartening that at the third quarterly stakeholders’ meeting, IPAC raised the hope of Nigerians that the lawmakers can still do the needful of encouraging legislators elected on their platform to pass the bill, when Nzenwa said. “But we are glad that the bill is still within the concave of the National Assembly for harmonisation by both chambers and urge all stakeholders to still persuade our elected representatives to listen to the voice of the people and support electronic transfer of election results.”
It is the opinion of Nigerians that the IPAC chairman can go back to the drawing board to summon his members and urge them to go convince the lawmakers that passing the bill on electronic transmission of election results will go a long way to further Nigeria’s democratic fortunes.
They can still understand and be prepared to pass the bill as he reminded that Nigerians should not “forgot that introduction of the Z-PAD which enhanced the task of transferring of elections information details from voting centres and introduction of other administrative innovations were largely responsible for the successful conduct of the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial polls which made these elections to be adjudged to be credible and fair particularly that of Edo.”
This will go a long way to show that “We (IPAC) support the commission to continue to develop and use deep-end technology to enhance our electoral process.”
This will also go a long way by the estimation of Nigerians “to convince us that the leadership of IPAC as presently constituted, is not self serving and not made up of parties which lack the necessary followership to lead the council or make pronunciations as those made by Nzenwa at the last consultative quarterly meeting with INEC.
IPAC commended on call against academics
However, some Nigerians have hailed the IPAC chairman when he said, “Ahead of Anambra gubernatorial polls coming on November 6, 2021, we call on the commission to put its best leg forward to conduct the polls in such a manner that no one will be left in doubt the that the commission have come of age and means to enthrone transparent and credible elections in the country.
“We advise that use of academics especially professors that are not sufficiently skilled in elections management practices should be discarded and management and staffers of the commission be deployed for elections as many of them are equipped to undertake this task.
“Also, those beating the drums of war and those threatening to rig the election should be apprehended and handed over the law enforcement agencies. Already, a notable figure amongst these candidates has been boosting that he is going to rig the elections as nobody would stop him.”