Serial digital entrepreneur and Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, has lampooned the poor state of internal democracy in the Nigerian political party landscape, describing it as a misfit for true democratic process in the 21st Century.
He made this call when he was cornered by a section of technology editors at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja last week.
Against the backdrop of the outcry over the shoddy conduct of primaries for elective positions by the major political parties in the country, Ekeh was quizzed by the press on how technology can be leveraged in sanitizing the system, especially in view of the sterling work done by Zinox in partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in creating a credible database of eligible voters and reducing litigations in successive elections.
A number of candidates had expressed their grievances over the manner in which the eventual winners and representatives for various positions were hand-picked or selected by party big-wigs and godfathers, thereby making a ruse of the process which had seen intending candidates purchase forms at often exorbitant costs.
“Party politics in Nigeria leaves a lot to be desired and the current state is a misfit for true and responsible democracy in the 21st Century. There is a glaring lack of internal democracy among all of the major political parties in the country. As a result, many people are left disgruntled and disenchanted with the process which is anything but transparent.
“The 21st Century requires a more transparent and democratic approach to the process of choosing our elected representatives and technology can play a huge role here, provided we have the mindset and the political will to allow it. Technology does not lie,” he intoned.
Ekeh, who has built a reputation as arguably Africa’s most disruptive digital entrepreneur, disclosed that the recently concluded party primaries represent a sad case study which further justifies the need to infuse technology in the process in order to reduce litigations and accusations of undemocratic practices.
“It makes no sense to encourage prospective candidates to purchase Nomination/Expression of Interest forms at prohibitive costs only to turn around and deny them a chance to test their popularity by foisting hand-picked choices on the electorate,” he stated.
While calling for a change of approach and dedication to stronger internal democracy among the parties, Ekeh noted that the status quo, if left unchecked, will continue to deny and discourage eminently qualified candidates from seeking political office.
“No team or army goes to battle without its best hands. If we continue to relegate internal democracy to the doldrums, Nigeria will be worse for it as our most qualified brains will continue to stay away from elective office,” he concluded.