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Nigeria: Bill on Democratizing Internal Political Party Procedures and Practices

(Apr. 7, 2009) It was reported on April 2, 2009, that a bill seeking to introduce internal democratic practices within the 50 registered political parties in Nigeria by regulating primary elections, congresses, and conventions was met with serious resistance by the country's major political parties. The bill was recently opened to a stakeholders' discussion in a public hearing convened by the Joint Committees on Electoral Matters, Justice and Inter-Party Affairs of the legislature. (Onwuka Nzeshi, PDP, AC Oppose Internal Democracy Bill, THIS DAY, Apr. 2, 2009, available at

Although major political parties in Nigeria recognize the need for some order in the way party affairs are conducted, they are not willing to do away with certain long-established practices and submit control of internal party affairs to government institutions. If passed into law, the bill will outlaw titles such as “leader,” “godfather,” and “godmother” and do away with the practice of consensus, such as filling vacancies by selection and appointment. It will also put restrictions on the procedures for expelling party members by introducing a requirement that parties obtain a court order validating such measures. Legal experts from some of the major political parties in Nigeria put forward serious questions about the viability of the bill. The National Legal Advisor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olusola Oke, said that while he acknowledged the need to introduce internal democratic practices within the political parties, this attempt by the National Assembly goes a little too far into their internal affairs. The National Legal Advisor to the Action Congress (AC), Dr. Ego Ezuma, said that although the intentions behind the bill were good, it cannot address any of the problems. According to Ezuma, the trouble with internal party practices is caused by attitude problems of politicians and is not due to shortcomings in regulations. (Id.)