A keynote address delivered by Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, GCON at the 2022 Annual Political Parties Summit in Nigeria held at Barcelona Hotel, Abuja on 30th of November, 2022



I am very delighted to be here today to share with you my perspectives on the theme of this summit titled: ‘Political parties, elections and the consolidation of democracy: Emerging issues and needed intervention in Nigeria’. 

Before I dive into my discourse, let me use this opportunity to commend the Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria for its exemplary leadership and sheer determination to promote inter-party harmony, electoral reforms, peaceful elections and entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria.   

Let me state that in putting this paper together, the question that came to my mind was, what does my audience want out of this theme? and the answer I could find is that the theme should discuss the role of political parties and electoral processes in ensuring the following essence and substance of democracy:

  1. That democracy must be a system of government chosen by the people themselves.
  2. The system of government must be operated by the people through structures and institutions. 
  3. The system must aim and work for the people to whom sovereignty belongs.  

Having laid the above framework, permit me to say that by the provisions of section 14 of the 1999 constitution as amended, Nigerians chose for themselves the system of democracy which we practice today. Specifically, Section 14 states: 

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice. 

The same constitution also provided for the institutions, modalities and frameworks to build the democratic system to deliver on the expectations of the people. 

I am sure that the challenge in our hands today is that our democracy appears to have failed the people as it appears that sovereignty no longer belong to the people. In my discourse therefore, I shall concentrate mainly on one of the institutions of our democratic process i.e political parties. I shall also discuss the electoral process i.e elections and the role of INEC in delivering credible elections in Nigeria. 

Let me therefore start with a highlight of the powers and responsibilities of political parties and INEC as critical institutions for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. 


One of the hall marks of democracy is the presence of multi-party system or political parties which increases the space for political participation, creates the forum where political ideologies are aggregated and expressed and serves as vehicle through which the people are able to choose their representatives in government. In Nigeria, Section 221 of the Constitution provides:

No association other than a political party, shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election. 

From the above, it is clear that the political party is the only gateway into our democratic leadership. As a result of its strategic entry position, section 222 provided as follows: 

No association by whatsoever name called shall function as a political party unless (b) the membership of the association is open to every citizen of Nigeria irrespective of his place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or ethnic grouping.

In view of the above provisions, I must remark at this point that the fundamentals of building a democratic system starts with the political parties. Such fundamentals include: observation of the rule of law, equality before the law, fundamental freedoms particularly, right to fair hearing, right to vote and be voted for, freedom of association, etc.

It is on record that where the political parties are found wanting in the observance of these fundamentals to democracy, the courts have shown willingness to declare their actions illegal and to strike down any action of the party in that regard. 

Apart from providing the platform through which citizens are able to choose their representatives, the second constitutional responsibility of the political parties is provided under section 224 of the constitution i.e 

“The Programme as well as the aims and objects of a political party shall conform with the provision of chapter II of this constitution”    

Ladies and gentlemen, you and I know that chapter II of the constitutions contains the fundamental objectives and Directive principles of state policy. For want of time and space, it will not be possible to fully discuss chapter II of the constitution in this paper but suffice it to say that chapter II captures the expectations of the Nigeria people from democracy and government i.e the state social order should be founded on ideals of freedom, equality and justice (section 17), federal character, unity, social welfare, access to quality education, housing etc. In addition, chapter II of the constitution particularly provided in section 14 (2) (a) (b) and (c) as follows: 

  1. Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority. 
  2. The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, and 
  3. The participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution. 

Ladies and gentlemen, you can agree with me that the intention of the makers of the constitution is that the fundamental objectives of the Nigerian state should be internalized in the political parties so that when the political party comes into power, the government will seamlessly continue from there. 

I must observe that the challenges before us is the practice whereby the political parties try to include some of these objectives in their constitutions and manifestos but in reality, it serves for documentation purposes only and never reflected in the practice and process of the party; and indeed, when they form government, the President or the Governor will not only set out his own agenda but will also assume the position of the leader of the political party. Hence, the political party becomes helpless and subservient to the Government.

In view of the above, I can safely say that the political parties in Nigeria have helplessly become a platform for powerful politicians to grab power at the detriment of the people. 

The expectation generally is that since the country has embraced democracy, its political parties should as a matter of ideology adopt democratic norms in the administration and management of their party affairs. However, lack of internal democracy in Nigerian political parties has become a persistent threat to the country’s democracy. For instance, Mike Igini, the former Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State while appearing in a Channels Television Program on 18th February 2019, revealed that there were over 640 pre-election cases in courts leading to the 2019 general elections as a result of internal party strife.

The recent squabble over party primaries throughout the country clearly show that not much has changed and that Nigeria political parties are not operating within norms of democratic principles. Various political parties have repeatedly failed to adopt and apply the provisions of their constitution to all party members who are interested in running for office. Candidates are imposed on the party without election and due process, while others are forced to join or cross carpet to other political parties in protestation of apparent lack of fair and equal opportunities in the conduct of party primaries. 

Within the political parties also, the apparent lack of social justice has presented serious challenges to the political party’s stability. In PDP for instance, the complaints of the G.5 Governors of PDP is not that the party primary election was faulty but that the pre and post primary processes did not guarantee justice to them. In APC also, the Christian caucus are also aggrieved owing to perceived injustice following the Muslim-Muslim ticket.  Let me therefore say that any failure to democracy starts with the political parties. 

2.      ELECTIONS. 

“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of every democracy and the primary mechanism for exercising the principle of sovereignty of the people (Uwais Report)” 

We have noted earlier, that political parties are the gateway to democratic leadership and while the primary elections reside with the political parties to produce the candidates for the general elections, the conduct of the general elections is the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We shall be focusing on the role of INEC in this segment of this paper and not the primary elections but suffice it to say that the roles of the political parties and INEC in every electoral process is like the beginning and the end of a rope.


Section 157 of the Constitution created INEC and paragraph 15 of the third schedule (part 1) gave INEC the following responsibility among others: 

The commission shall have power to:

Organize, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice-resident, the Governor and Deputy-Governor of a state, and to the membership of the senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each state of the Federation.  

It is clear that INEC is the ultimate umpire in enthroning any person to the positions mentioned in paragraph 15 above. The 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act regulates not only the operations of INEC but also its composition and structure. It is also important to note that the expectations of the Nigerian people from INEC is that INEC should observe all principles of democracy and social justice in the conduct of its affairs particularly, the principles of “free, fair and credible elections as crucial requirements for democratic consolidation.  

Ladies and gentlemen, having highlighted the importance of the above two institutions (i.e political parties and INEC) in building democracy, let me therefore evaluate their performances so far. 


The concerns for the poor performances of the political parties and the electoral conducts in Nigeria have been wide spread. At the end of each election, electoral observers have always come up with myriads of short falls in standard practices. This is in addition to complaints from the contestants in the elections who not only head to court but also push their complaints to various platforms for public notice. However, for time and space, suffice this to say that the high point of such concerns came from late President Musa Yar’Adua who though was a beneficiary of the flawed system was bold enough to admit it and vowed to overhaul the entire electoral process.

To make real his promise, President Musa Yar’Adua on August 28, 2007 set up the Justice Uwais led committee on Electoral Reforms. Since then, electoral reforms have been like a permanent item in our political programmes. Under President Jonathan, electoral reforms featured prominently in the National Conference of 2014 and under President Mohammed Buhari, the government set up Senator Ken Nnamani’s committee to further review the electoral processes and subsequently, the National Assembly amended the Electoral Act to accommodate as much as possible, all the concerns that appear to have stalled our journey to democratic consolidation. For time and space let me simply list some of the ills of our electoral processes that have been identified in the successive efforts to reform our electoral process:

  1. Lack of internal democracy in the political parties leading to imposition of candidates. 
  2. Hijacking of the party apparatchik by influential money bags.  
  3. The Chief Executives usurping the position of the leader of the party and thereby making the party subservient to the government.   
  4. Incumbents being in control of public resources, manipulates the system to determine the outcome of elections.
  5. Inability of the political parties to maintain functional register of its members. 
  6. Primordial considerations of ethnicity and religion still out weights national interests. 
  7. Inability of the political parties to respect their own constitution and guidelines in the conduct of its affairs. 
  8. The appointment of the Chairman and Members of the INEC still an executive function of the incumbent and thereby making INEC not very independent. 
  9. INEC is encumbered with much distracting responsibilities e.g registration and regulation of the political parties and also constituency delineation. 
  10. Inadequate funding of INEC more-so INEC being subject to periodic budgetary releases. 
  11. Falsification of election results
  12. Use of security agents during elections to intimidate opponents, agents and voters
  13. Stuffing of ballot boxes
  14. Infant voting
  15. Vote buying
  16. Compilation of fictitious names on voters list
  17. Illegal printing and use of forms for collection and declaration of election results.  
  18. Deliberate refusal to supply election materials to certain places.
  19. Announcing results where no elections were held
  20. The use of armed thugs to disrupt elections
  21. Inflation of election figures.
  22. Politicization of the judiciary 
  23. Disenfranchisement of adult voters by poor voter registration system 

The above are just some of the observations of serval electoral observers and reform committees, but I can tell you that the list appears endless. If the success of our democracy as pointed out above depends on the institutions and processes discussed above, you can agree with me that our democracy is in danger and will never consolidate. However, there is good news. Following the recommendations of various committees, a whole lot has been achieved through the amendment of the Electoral Act and the upgrade of the INEC systems and modalities. I shall hereunder mention just a few of the achievements recorded so far: 


On the part of the political parties, it appears not much have changed but the courts have been forthcoming in compelling the parties to obey their own constitutions and guidelines e.g in the case of Mr. Emmanuel Andy Uba VS Dr. George Moghalu & Others. The Supreme Court deprecated the neglect of party constitution and guidelines by political parties in the following words:

“By the stated facts and circumstances leading to this appeal, the Appellant and whatever be his guts brazenly and impudently overthrew the 3rd Respondent’s Guidelines to produce the results of a primary election that never held or improperly held. Where a member or members of the party feels too powerful to be governed or controlled by the party constitution or guidelines, and in contravention of such control mechanisms, then certainly, democracy is thrown overboard by anarchy. See Per MUHAMMAD, J.S.C, in PDP V. SHERRIF & ORS (2017) LPELR-42736(SC) (PP. 70-72 PARAS. A). I need not emphasize the supremacy and bindingness of the 3rd Respondent’s Constitution and Guidelines over both the 1st Respondent and the Appellant regarding the conduct of the Anambra State governorship primary election that held on 26/6/2021

Furthermore section 228 (a) of the constitution provides:

The National Assembly may by law provide – (a) guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy within political parties, including making laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party conventions.  

Following from the above, it is interesting how the provisions of the amended Electoral Act drastically reduced the number of delegates to the national conventions of the political parties in the last convention preparation to 2023 Presidential election. 

It is my opinion that the National Assembly should do more in democratizing the internal mechanisms of our parties through uniform legislations.


On the part of INEC and electoral processes, the INEC’s introduction of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV) have largely arrested most of the challenges that previously promoted electoral fraud during elections. 

BVAS is a new technological device used to identify and accredit voters’ fingerprints and facial recognition, while IReV is an online portal where polling unit level results are uploaded directly from the polling units, transmitted and published for the public. 

I must say that with the introduction and use of these two technologies, the recent elections in Ekiti and Osun States appears to meet appreciable standard of credible free and fair elections. Nigerians expects the same standard in the 2023 general elections. 

However, I must note that there had been calls that INEC should subject the BVAS to third party evaluation to ensure it meets standards and integrity. I think this call is in the right direction because justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Nigerians must be at ease that the BVAS technology is not a secret only known to INEC, it must be known to all that BVAS cannot be manipulated.   


Having recorded so much progress in containing the shorts falls in the operations of political parties and electoral processes, it is important to identify areas that still need urgent attention and also proffer necessary solutions. I shall hereunder mention a few while you may be at liberty to add much more. 


For the first time, there is an organized demand that the political parties must not only see conduct of party primary elections as constituting the core of its democratic mandate but must enthrone social justice e.g in APC when it appeared that some people were pushing for a candidate from the north, the APC Governors met and resolved that equity and justice demands that after a northern President, the next President should come from the South and Mr. President agreed with them and it happened and calmed nerves in APC. This is more-so even as zoning or rotation is not in the APC constitution. 

On the part of PDP, rotation or zoning is clearly spelt out in its constitution but by twist of politics, the party jettisoned zoning and a candidate from the North emerged. Since then, the party has not known peace. As stated above, the G.5 governors are not saying that election of the candidate was flawed but that there should be an adjustment in the structure of the party to accommodate social justice.

It is my opinion that IPAC should intervene to resolve this impasse and seek a common standard for which they should encourage the National Assembly to legislate on. Political party reformation should be anchored on the fact that Political Parties must no longer be structured for the sole purpose of acquiring power, but also as vehicles for promoting social justice, articulating policies and mainstreaming good governance in the polity. Processes dealing with modalities for choosing persons to run for or occupy Government offices (i.e primaries, selection, nomination, recommendation, etc) must be totally reformed in such a way that it is open, inclusive, transparent and promotes justice, equity and fairness. Issues of money politics, imposition, selective judgment, etc within the party system must be totally eradicated to allow for a more efficient and effective way of running political parties. 

The legislation on political party reforms must be holistic and geared towards improving leadership, capacity, discipline, internal democracy, ideology and conflict resolution mechanisms within the political parties. Again, I dare say that IPAC should champion this.


There cannot be democracy, where there is no space for engagement with the electorates. In some states today holding political meetings and rallies have been banned in public places including markets. So, tell me, should campaigns in those states hold in the bedrooms of the contestants?

My opinion is that the National Assembly should rise to the occasion and legislate on this matter even as the law enforcement agents should protect the citizens right to peaceful assembly. 


The parties are increasingly becoming more subservient to the government they produce. This had made it impossible for the parties to regulate its own internal affairs and also impossible to implement their own manifestos. As long as this continues, the parties will continue to remain a platform for the use of powerful politicians to grab power at the expense of the people 

It is my opinion that this situation is the most dangerous threat to our democracy. Our democracy will continue to move in the reverse if this situation is not arrested.

My suggestion is that IPAC should set up a committee to work out modalities for stemming this tide and then liaise with the National Assembly to legislate on this. 


Institutions that are involved with the conduct of elections in Nigeria such as INEC, security agencies and the judiciary are the main drivers of democracy in any society. This is because institutions sustain the democratic process by promoting and maintaining an orderly procedure through which dividends of democracy are delivered to the people, decisions are made, disputes are resolved, and power is transferred from one group to another. Hence, there is the absolute need to strengthen our institutions by mainstreaming the principles of rule of law and other democratic norms in their operations, beefing up their capacity, improving their independence and deployment of technology to drive their processes and operations.

My suggestion is that IPAC should champion the efforts to strengthen electoral institutions.

I thank you all