On the 25th of May, 2018, ahead of the 2019 general elections, registered Political Parties (PPs) in Nigeria adopted and signed the revised Code of Conduct (CoC) for PPs to guide their conduct before, during and after the elections. PDP, APGA, and ADC were absent as APC, SDP, LP and 50 other PPs signed the CoC. There are 68 registered PPs in Nigeria.
Hubu Galadima, CEO NIPSS, said the CoC for PPs in Nigeria (CoCPPN) is voluntary and it provides a set of rules of behaviour for PPs and their supporters. The validation workshop to adopt the CoCPPN was organised by the PP Leadership and Policy Development Centre (PPLPDC) of the Nigeria Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS). The PPLPDC is the beneficiary of a 2.7m Euro Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN) to implement component 3 of the project aimed to enhance pluralism, tolerance, internal democracy and equality of opportunity for PPs and the PP system.
'Nigeria's PPs are largely characterised as lacking clear programmes and ideology, weak in internal democracy, not inclusive as well as having a tendency to disregard Party and electoral rules. As a resul, they have been unable to effectively mobilise and educate the public. Instead, they have been marred by internal crises and have been purveyors of electoral violations and violence'.
The Project Director of the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), David Notre, described PPs as the primary stakeholders in the political system and their conduct considerably impacts the electoral process, outcomes and by extension the stability of the electoral system. The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was represented by JNEC National Commissioner/Chair, Election and Party Monitoring Committee (EPCM), Prof. Antunia Okoosi-Simbine, expressed satisfaction with the official signing and adoption of the new CoC which has been updated from the one signed on July 16, 2013, by the then 25 registered PPs.
'It is commendable that PPs in NIgeria have remained committed to the idea of developing and operating under a mutually agreed CoC that sets the parameters for acceptable behaviour for PPs, their candidates and supporters throughout the electoral cycle. By contributing to, signing the CoC, PPs have indeed committed to a pact with Nigerians and their activities will, going forward, be consistent with international best practices'.
Meanwhile INEC has warned candidates contesting in the July 14 Governorship election in Ekiti state against inducing voters with cash. The CoC has also become the instrument for the establishment of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), which now plays a significant role as the umbrella body for all registered PPs. Simbine told the PPs to use the umbrella of IPAC to exert peer pressure for the adoption of best practices in key areas, including:
*The promotion of internal democracy.
*Provision of expanded roles for disadvantaged social groups, especially women, youth and PLWDs
*Deliberate commitment by leaders of PPs to the rule of law and strict compliance with the provisions of respective PP constitutions.
*PPs required to sign a Peace Pact before every election
The signing of the revised CoC could portend a silver lining in the horizon for Nigeria if all PPs are in agreement. I salute the team that put together this revised CoC