By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”THE House of Representatives, yesterday, amended the Electoral Act, 2003, to restrict the number of political parties in the country to five.
About 172 members of the chamber voted for five political parties, 48 voted for two political parties while only one was recorded by the Clerk of the House to have abstained.
The motion for five political parties, as sponsored by Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, described the number of parties in the country as too many and â€˜unwieldy.â€™
But leaders of the opposition, Reps Ali Ndume, ANPP, Borno, Femi Gbajabiamila, AC, Lagos, Suleiman Kawu, ANPP, Kano, followed by others staged a walk out of the chambers describing the voting pattern that divided the House, as fraudulent.
Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, AC, Lagos, a cognate member of the opposition in the House, said the count though meant to pass for credible, was far from transparent and credible.
She said: â€œHope you saw what happened, the vote was clearly fraudulent. We (members) had our electronic cards to vote, but the Speaker did not allow us to vote the proper way. He decided to divide the House and do a count that did not include all the members in the chamber.â€
The Speaker of the House, Dimeji Bankole, had on May 4, 2010, promised a delegation of eight governors that the Green Chamber would whittle down the 59 political parties currently registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Mrs. Ekwunife who made the proposal for a five-party system in an interview with Vanguard, weekend, however, called for an outright withdrawal of funding for political parties.
She said after the vote, yesterday, that this was a tactical means of curtailing the multiplicity of political associations in the country, a proposal she said majority of the members of the House would push next Tuesday, when they resumed voting on the Electoral Act.
The lawmaker who raised a motion for five parties during the amendment debates on the Electoral Act, 2006 last week, said the â€˜senselessâ€™ proliferation of political parties had bred the multiple problems of political space congestion, logistical problems for the electoral umpire and marred election results.