Government’s subvention is our lifeline, say political parties

Some politicians on Thursday called on the Federal Government to re-introduce subvention to political parties to enable them function optimally and make the desired impacts.

However, some other politicians describe the subvention as a stimulant for formation of purposeless parties, saying that Nigeria had outgrown it. The politicians spoke in Lagos.

Those in support of the grant said that many parties merely existed on papers due to funds constraints, and urged the National Assembly to accommodate re-introduction of the grants in the constitution amendment.

The Lagos State Chairman of Action Alliance, Shola Omolola, said that it had been a herculean task for his party to survive because of lack of funds.

“My party and some other parties have largely survived due to the commitment of party leaders and magnanimity of party loyalists, aspirants and candidates.

“Parties with no political office holders at local government, state or federal level have found it difficult to survive.

“Re-introduction of grants to political parties will help the parties to be truly independent and play down the issue of godfather,” he said.

The Lagos State Chairman of People’s Democratic Movement, Akin Badmus, also expressed support for government grants to political parties.

“Political parties are public institutions meant to promote public good; so, without public funding, they will be hijacked by moneybags who promote their own private interests,’’ Mr Badmus said.

On his part, Fatai Ibuowo, Lagos State Chairman of National Conscience Party, said that it had been `hell’ running a party without support from government.

“It has not been easy to run a party without government support even though the previous grants were questionable.

“The last amount given to my party was N3, 000,000.

“If you divide it into 36 states of the federation, you will get N83, 333 per state; if you divide further into 20 LGAs, you get N4,166 and by wards, for instance, Oshodi that has 11 wards, each will get N378.7k,” he said.

The Lagos State Chairman of African Democratic Congress, Nkem Lemchi, said political parties were almost grounded due to lack of government grants.

“My party has fared very badly and is almost grounded due to lack of funds.

“Re-introduction of government grants to parties will reduce hijacking of parties by rich individuals, guarantee a level playing ground and usher in a sense of belonging to all members.

“In case the grant is re-introduced, a mandate should be given to party headquarters to ensure that state chapters are carried along in the distribution of such funds,’’ Lemchi said

However, the Deputy Chairman of Lagos Chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Ola Apena, frowned at government subvention to any political party.

“I will not subscribe to subvention to any political party at this time, even if it was done way back in 1998 to encourage formation of multiple parties.

“We have done the experiment for about 20 years now; it is expected that by now, we would have seen strong parties that can withstand the heat while those who could not have gone under.

“A strong political party should be able to source for funds from its members,’’ Mr Apena said.

The National Chairman of Progressive Action Council, Charles Nwodo, advised that taxpayers’ money should not be used to fund parties anymore.

“It is about seven years INEC stopped funding political parties, and since then, we have not heard about parties mismanaging funds.

“Party in power often uses the fund as a ploy to sponsor crises among parties who mount opposition.

“If funding of political parties is sustained, majority of them will resist merger and it will trigger registration of hundreds of parties.

“Parties of father and son with mother as the treasurer will emerge,’’ he said.

Presently, Nigeria has 46 registered political parties.

Political parties last received grants from the Federal Government in 2009 during the administration of the late President Umaru Yar’adua. Each party got N6 million.