This article is for young Nigerians who have bravely ventured into party politics, only to be cheated during party primaries by opaque, unfair practices that are in clear violation of the party's own constitution. This is the third part of my series on hacking the Nigerian political system.
The only way that young Nigerians can take the mantle of power is by insisting on enforcement of party constitutions.
Need for Party Constitution
By the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and regulations of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), every political party must have a constitution to spell out rules and regulations relating to:
- Party Organization
- Party Processes
- Party Discipline
- Candidate Selection
- Dispute Resolution and Rule of Law
The party constitutions are largely inaccessible to the majority of party members. With high levels of illiteracy and poverty, the party constitution is the last thing on the minds of most party members. Only the privileged few have access to these documents. This must change.
It's a Family Affair
In principle, political parties are supposed to abide by their constitution. In practice however, many internal disputes are reduced to the level of 'family affair'- which means they are settled by mediation. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but what it does mean is that 'elders' will have inordinate influence in settling these disputes since african culture generally gives them the final say. In fact, many younger party members (particularly in rural areas) dare not look an elder in the eye, talk less of disagreeing with them. Many even have the irrational fear that elders would place curses on them for any real or imagined slight!
Hacking Nigerian Politics: What is to be done?
Because of their competitive advantage in the area of information technology, and because information is power, young Nigerians can take immediate action to widely disseminate information about party constitutions, how they are being violated and how to enforce them. Remember- the path to rigging of general elections begins with rigging of party primaries. In the same vein, candidates who benefit from such deficient primary elections are unlikely to fight for due process and transparency when they get into government.
Here are some ideas for high-impact projects to address this issue. These can be taken up by individual party hierachies or interested third parties:
- Translate party constitution into indigenous languages and distribute print and online versions.
- Convert party constitutions to audio format and distribute as audiobooks.
- Present draft legislation to National Assembly or INEC directing each political party to create a fund to pay legal costs of both sides of internal disputes (this may serve as a deterrent to prevent the party from violating its own rules).
- INEC could introduce a requirement to videotape party primaries and upload to dedicated websites as permanent public record that due process was followed.
Do you have other ideas for actions that can be taken to make it easier for younger Nigerians to get involved in politics? Lets discuss in the comments.
If you want to get involved just shoot me an email to email@example.com.