By Ononye VC
The Senator representing Anambra Central and Chairman Senate Committee on Diaspora and NGOs, Senator Dr Victor Umeh OFR on Tuesday, represented the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio CON at the Public Presentation of Needs Assessment of Political Parties in Nigeria by The Kukah Centre at Exclusive Serene Hotel, Abuja
Presenting the Senate President’s Address, Senator Umeh commended the Founder of The Kukah Centre and Convener, National Peace Committee, Most. Rev. Matthew Kukah and extolled his efforts in making meaningful contributions towards deepening the cause of democracy in Nigeria while performing his episcopal responsibilities in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.
Further commending the efforts of Bishop Matthew Kukah towards promoting democracy and good governance in Nigeria, he said:
_Most people stay as armchair critics, you won’t see them in the frontline; you won’t see them contribute to national discuss that will engender a viable democracy in Nigeria, but from your episcopal duties notwithstanding, you have put yourself forward as an active citizen in Nigeria.
Speaking on the roles of political parties in bringing about good leadership and good governance, he continued:
“The leadership any country gets depend on what the political parties do because the political parties produce leaders in any democracy. At least in Nigeria, we do not have independent candidates. Our choices to vote are limited to those that the political parties present during election”.
The progress made in the evolution of Nigeria political parties is commendable but so much work is needed to be done particularly in strengthening the internal democracy with the way we nominate candidates that contest elections.
He underscored the need to address the issue of impunity within political parties and also stressed the need for transparency in political parties especially in choosing electable candidates as that would minimize corruption and foster the confidence of the people towards the election processes.
Individuals who engage in unethical or illegal practices must be held accountable irrespective of their position or influence; this will send a strong message, that our democratic institutions are not above the law and the rule of law applies to all.”
He commended the effort of Bishop Matthew Kukah and his Team in the production of the publication, Needs Assessment of Political Parties in Nigeria describing it as an important document that provides a road-map to solving the problem in Nigeria’s political history.
Nevertheless, the Senate President represented by Senator Umeh further disclosed that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria holds a similar ideology by which a Town Hall on Electoral Reform was organized by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters.
I commend the Kukah Centre for their dedication to promoting democracy in Nigeria and the European Union for their unwavering support in this endeavor.”
In conclusion, he called for a reflection on the evolution of political parties in Nigeria and for commitment towards building a democratic process that fosters inclusivity, transparency and accountability. He re-emphasized the need to restore public trust and confidence in the political parties and political processes.
In the same vein, Senator Victor Umeh further buttressed the critical roles of political parties in entrenching standard democracy and good governance in Nigeria.
The political parties are the engine rooms of the change we yearn for.
We are in dire need of internal democracy in the political parties. Senator Umeh added.
Also present at the Event were: the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Tajudeen Abbas represented by Rt. Hon. Zakaria Dauda Nyamba; the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu represented by INEC’s National Commissioner, Hon. Sam Olumekun; The Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS), H.E Samuela ISOPI represented by the Programme Manager—Democracy, Governance and Migration, Ms Laolu Olawumi; the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), H.E. Leonardo Santos Simao; the National Chairman of APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; the National Chairman of APGA, Barrister Ezeokenwa Jr Sly; Representatives of the leadership of other political parties, etc.