April 2, 2009
Electoral Fraud Litigations Cost N70b, Say Politicians
By Sule Lazarus and Otei Oham, Abuja
Politicians told lawmakers on Wednesday that from available statistics to them, about N70 billion has been squandered since 1999 to seek legal redress against electoral fraud.
They made the disclosure at the House of Representatives public hearing on a Bill for internal organisation and administration of political parties, that seeks best democratic practices, including free and fair party elections, congresses, conventions, and related matters.
Richard Daniel, who spoke on behalf of opposition politicians from Adamawa, expressed shock at the financial cost of electoral fraud, an amount he noted is enough to upgrade infrastructure countrywide.
He said party structures are so undemocratic that National Chairmen are not elected but appointed by those who matter in the party, imposing such incompetent people on members.
His words: “The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Vincent Ogbulafor, was appointed, not elected, so he is illegally occupying the office. The courts gave us Umaru Yar’Adua as President. The courts returned 79 Senators, and the courts gave us 107 House of Representatives members. That is the extent to which this country has derailed politically.
“Let me be very emphatic that all local government Chairmen are appointed by Governors, so there has not been any time after Moshood Abiola’s election (as President in 1993, which was quashed) that free and fair elections are conducted.
“What we always have is the imposition of friends, brothers, and relatives on the people.”
Mike Ahamba (who was Muhammadu Buhari’s counsel in the lawsuit against Yar’Adua’s election) argued that operators of democracy in Nigeria are undemocratic.
He said politicians are nominated and appointed, rather than being elected as stated in the Constitution.
“All Nigerians are tired of the state of affairs, so this Bill is timely to change the continuous oppression of the poor. Nigerians should be allowed to participate effectively in the political process of this country,” he stressed.
Former Kaduna State Governor and Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) Chairman, Balarabe Musa, noted that the inadequacies in the political structure can only be addressed if the National Assembly makes laws that regulate political parties.
He commended lawmakers for their efforts on the Bill.
Gbenga Oduaye, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Inter and Intra Party Affairs, Justice and Electoral Matters, said the Bill seeks to address the problems in political parties.
He enthused that when the Bill becomes law expulsion of members of political parties shall be abolished in favour of suspension.