The 2023 elections have exacerbated party politics and indiscipline, according to Tonye Cole, the former Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State. In an interview, Cole discussed several aspects of Nigerian politics and the challenges facing the country’s electoral system.
Regarding collaboration between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC in Rivers State, Cole denied any such cooperation but noted the prevalence of anti-party activities within PDP factions, with members staying within the party while working against its candidates. He emphasized the APC’s efforts to secure electoral victories in Rivers State and mentioned ongoing legal challenges related to the elections.
Cole also discussed party discipline in Nigeria, highlighting the weakening of political parties in recent years due to frequent defections and the diminishing influence of party decisions. He expressed concern about the lack of disciplinary action against individuals who engage in anti-party activities and the perception that some politicians believe they are larger than their respective parties.
Addressing the issue of political appointments in Rivers State, Cole noted that these appointments are made at the discretion of the President and suggested that relationships and influence within the cabinet may affect such decisions. He mentioned efforts to communicate the party’s concerns to the presidency and the need for the new national party chairman to strengthen the APC in Rivers State.
Regarding recent judgments by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), Cole stated that he wasn’t surprised by the outcomes and discussed the burden of proof placed on petitioners in court cases, emphasizing the need for petitioners to convince the Supreme Court justices.
Concerning the Electoral Act 2022, Cole acknowledged its improvements but mentioned some loopholes and challenges, such as issues related to accreditation, BVAS, and the transmission of results. He recommended further amendments to address these issues, particularly reducing human factors in the electoral process to minimize opportunities for malpractice.
Finally, Cole advised the President to focus on local production, agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), technology, and solid mineral exploitation to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal and stimulate economic growth. He also suggested empowering states to develop their resources and economies independently, fostering a more autonomous approach within the country.