Abuja, 31, October 2018. The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the 31st of October 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, commenced a broad range training to enhance the capacity of Nigerian political Parties on media and campaign strategies. Part of the Workshop also targets journalists and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the promotion of participatory democracy, among others. The exercises which encompasses the mainstreaming of youth and women into political party activities, political party financing, inter-party democracy as well as administrative processes, are meant to weigh in positively on the forthcoming 2019 General elections in Nigeria. Welcoming participants to the training Workshop, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis Behanzin commended the political parties’ representatives for “conducting their activities so far in a manner that is not abhorrent to democratic tenets and principles” Commissioner Behanzin who was represented by the Commission’s Director of Political Affairs Dr. Remi Ajibewa, stated that the workshop has been meticulously structured to cover selected but relevant areas of concerns affecting most political parties in the region and in Nigeria, in particular for which ECOWAS has developed necessary Training Modules.
The development of the Modules, he disclosed, is a response to the recent pedagogical approach adopted by ECOWAS Commission to strengthen democratic process in member States. He stressed the conviction of the ECOWAS Commission that the Workshop offers a unique and inexpensive opportunity for political parties to engage in solemn reflection and constructive discussions on some key concerns emanating from the build-up to the forthcoming elections in Nigeria with a view to addressing them collectively and harmoniously. In the spirit of cooperation and continuity, he said the meeting of minds is expected to build upon previous efforts by the ECOWAS and other international interlocutors to support peaceful, transparent and free elections in Nigeria.
In her goodwill message, presented after an overview of the programme was given by the Head, Democracy and Good Governance Division of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Eyesan Okorodudu, the Resident Programme Officer of the International Republican Institute (IRI) Mrs Husna Hassan stressed the need to build on the positives of political parties in Nigeria becoming more responsive. In a keynote address, the National Chairman of We The People Nigeria (WTPN) political party professor Peter Nwangwu who spoke on behalf of the chairperson of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), emphasized that what is needed in Nigeria is the creation of an enabling environment and the opportunities for citizens to thrive. According to him, among the newer political parties, there has now intensified “the struggle to dismantle the nonsense that is destroying Nigeria” Declaring the Workshop open, the Commissioner and chairperson, Elections and Party Monitoring arm of the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) professor Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine noted that the lack of Internal Party Democracy (IPD) is largely responsible for the challenges of the political parties in Nigeria. Maintaining that the media must be at its agenda-setting duty post, and help bring about attitudinal change, she urged participants to add their understanding of strategies for promoting the mainstreaming of youth and women into political parties’ activities, media and campaign strategies, campaign finance, internal party democracy and administrative processes. The Three-Day Workshop which will feature presentations by experts and resources persons including Professor Oshita Oshita, Professor Kofi Agyekum, Mr. Aminu Idris, and Dr. Franklin Oduro, will examine critical issues bordering on media relations, internal party democracy and administrative process, political party financing in West Africa as well as mainstreaming women and youth into political parties’ activities