Reducing the number of political parties

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AFTER independence, the aims of  political parties were maintaining and protecting the unity and sovereignty of Nigeria as one indivisible and indissoluble nation among others.

The political parties that were formed after the  ban on political activities was lifted on September  21, 1978, were  National Party of Nigeria (NPN), The Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and  Nigeria  Advance Party (NAP).

Before the final return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, the nation was on the right track to true democracy. Prior to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election which was adjudged the freest and fairest election ever conducted in Nigeria, there were only two political parties in existence, and like what is obtained in America where it is either the Republicans or the Democrats, the parties in the third republic were; Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). Hence, comparing the 1993 general elections with just two parties to the 2003 and 2007 multi-party elections, even a crawling child will spot the difference! After the healthy competition among the three political parties— Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All People Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, the performance of some of these political parties in subsequent elections were not encouraging.

The impression one got was that some of these parties were more interested in the handout they receive from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), than compete ting for office with other vibrant parties.

Furthermore, no political party can win election without first of all, building or erecting national structures, because the constitution forbids regional association in form of political party. Section 222(e) of the constitution as amended reads: “No association by whatever name called shall function as a political party unless; the name of the association, its symbol or logo does not contain any ethnic or religious connotation or give the appearance that the activities of the association are confined to a part only of the geographical area of Nigeria”.

There are some political parties that don’t even have offices in some States, let alone the 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria.

The funny thing about the existence of some of these political parties is that, after election, there will be the first to head for the courts on grounds that their party logo did not appear on INEC ballot papers.

The 2011 Presidential election exposed the weaknesses of some these parties. Imagine, a nation where there are 63 political parties, only 20 participated in the presidential election. What happened to the remaining 43 parties? Out of the 20 political parties that contested the presidential election, only four got meaningful votes.

The four are; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with about 58.9 percent votes, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), with about 31.9 percent votes, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), with about 5.4 percent votes and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), with about 2.4 percent votes. The remaining 16 parties got between 0.2 percent and 0.02 percent.

Reducing the number of our political parties will help the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in monitoring and providing adequate logistics for subsequent polls in the country. It will bring down the expenses often uncured by INEC during and after elections.

The goodwill that, the 2011 general elections brought to us as a nation will be improved on in 2015 and future elections thereby, giving Nigeria, the passport to stand side-by-side with other great democracies of the world.

Mr. EDWIN EKENE, a social critic,  wrote from Enugu.

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