By Andy Chukwu
A coalition of 91 registered political parties, under the aegis of Inter-Party Advisory Council, (IPAC) on Sunday described as treacherous the position of the United Nations on the number of political parties, saying it was encouraging autocracy in Africa.
Peter Ameh, the National Chairman of IPAC, who is also National Chairman of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA),in a statement in Abuja, condemned the position of the global body.
IPAC therefore called on the UN to work closely with the Nigerian government and all registered political parties “to further deepen the country’s democracy with a view to enhancing its inclusivity.”
Ameh said that the current number of registered political parties in Nigeria had “afforded over 200 million Nigerian citizens, the opportunity to be part of the electoral processes in Nigeria.”
“IPAC calls on the UN to concentrate more efforts on the security challenges ravaging and decimating the Nigerian Nation and the unprecedented level of unemployment across the Federation which are the real threats and which ought to be of great concern to the UN”, Ameh stated.
Ameh regretted that the UN could make mockery of the multi-party democracy currently being enjoyed by Nigerians and which was fought for by the country’s eminent jurists including Chief Gani Fawehimi (SAN) and guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“The position of the United Nations, encouraging autocracy in Africa, as stated by the United Nation’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, is not only treacherous but threatens the very peace which the United Nations was formed to uphold.
“The UN came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish
“It is indeed of great concern to hear Mohammed Ibn Chambas of the United Nations, express such views as he did, during a courtesy call on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja, on behalf of the UN in this 21st century when democracy and world peace is under threat in most African countries as a result of dictatorships and perceived centralisation of governments as currently witnessed in Nigeria.
“IPAC condemns in very strong terms, the position and statement by the UN, that the multi-party democracy which Nigerians currently enjoy and which was fought for by the country’s eminent jurists including Chief Gani Fawehimi (SAN) and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), could be said to, in his words, pose a serious challenge as it hinders the electorate from taking informed decisions.
“To further state that the result of such sacrifices by patriotic Nigerians, is a serious challenge which ‘distracts from the quality of the process’ shows the extent to which the United Nations, through its Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, understands Nigeria’s democratic struggles and the threats incidental thereto.”
Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, had expressed concern over the number of political parties in Nigeria and the sub-region, describing it as a serious challenge which “distracts from the quality of the process.”
The UN Special Representative had expressed the feelings during a courtesy call on Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Abuja.
He said the number of political parties in certain elections in West Africa and the Sahel sub-region has posed a challenge.
“Recently in Senegal, this same challenge was faced, they have found their manner of dealing with it. Next door in (Republic of Benin), when they were confronted with as many as 249 registered political parties, they have also tried to find their way to handle this issue.
“In the last election in Nigeria, many of you will recall that there were 73 presidential candidates. I am not talking about registered political parties but presidential candidates. With the usual Nigerian people, some people even referred to the ballot paper as table cloth on account of its length and breadth.
“Of course, that also has its only challenges and for countries in our sub-region, presenting them with such long list of candidates sometimes distract them from the quality of the process and informed decisions by the electorate.”