Nigeria’s political environment is now populated by “reckless politicians,” who cashed in on the nation’s electoral system to occupy space, a former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope has said.
Babatope, one of the founding leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told the Nigerian Tribune, he blamed the ugly trend to the lack of the political will by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to check the unbridled number of political parties in the country.
He said the unwieldy number of parties has given room for even parties that performed woefully in general election to remain afloat thereby constitution nuisance to democracy.
A total of 91 parties are currently on the register of the INEC, with many political associations seeking recognition as parties pending with the commission.
Stakeholders, including the top officials of the commission, had decried the challenges posed by a large number of parties that contested the last general election in the country
Babatope said the existing system constituted a major obstacle to deepening democratic values and culture, advocating a paradigm shift that would remove the chaff from the rice.
“What I mean by political recklessness is if a political party contests an election and scores zero, you still want that party to continue because the electoral system is bad.
“The INEC is not going to give us a good election. So, the party will tell you that we don’t score zero if I have been given the right platform to operate. So, that is why we have reckless politicians all over the place.
“We cannot regiment parties but the current number of parties is bad for democracy. That is why the National Assembly must make sure they pass laws that will really curtail how they operate,” he stated.
The former minister also lamented that some of the current political leaders usually held governors to hostage on the membership of state cabinet, unlike in the Second Republic when elected public officers enjoyed unfettered freedom from party leaders on such matter to guarantee good governance and competence.
Babatope, who was the director of an organisation, the then Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), said the founder and leader of the party, Chief Obafemi Awolowo never interfered in the administration of the five governors that were elected on the platform of the UPN.