Abuja – With the conclusion of the 2011 general elections, the NUJ and other political stakeholders have urged the INEC to prune the number of political parties in the country to grow the nation’s democracy.

In separate interviews Umuahia and Abakaliki, the Abia and Ebonyi capitals respectively.

Section 78 (7i and ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (Amended) empowers INEC to de-register political parties that fail to win a seat in an election.

The Act also empowers the commission to de-register parties which breached any of the registration requirements.

From Umuahia, Mr Ambrose Nwachukwu, the NUJ National Vice President (Zone `C’),  called for the de-registration of political parties that failed to secure any seat in the just-concluded 2011 general elections.

“INEC should invoke the provisions of the Electoral Act and de-register these political parties.

“I will support the pruning or downsizing of political parties in the country.

“Sixty-three political parties are too many for our polity,” Nwachukwu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia.

He attributed the large number of voided votes to the fact that many people did not know which party was contesting for what position.

He also said that geographical spread should no long be a factor in the registration of parties in Nigeria.

“Most of these political parties which claim they have the spread and structure are not on ground,” Nwachukwu noted.

According to him, the large number of parties encourages indiscipline as party discipline and steadfastness are often jettisoned because people can jump from one party to another without sanctions.

“What we have today is not party membership based on ideology but membership based on selfish interest,” he said.

He said that in the past membership, was based on laudable objectives, stressing that political parties used to have strong regional base and won elective offices in the region and some at the centre.

In a separate interview, the Chairman Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Abia, Mr Ifeanyi Onwuneme, supported the call for the pruning of political parties in the country.

Onwuneme said that CLO would identify with any cause that would move the country forward.

“If we must check the indiscipline among the political class, INEC should invoke the laws and do the right thing,” he said.

Also commenting, a lawyer, Mr Sidney Onyemere, claimed that the multiplicity of political parties was a ploy to muzzle the opposition.

“A regime that allows multiple registration of political parties does not mean well for Nigeria,’’ Onyemere said.

Onyemere said that it was unconstitutional to de-register any political party.

He, therefore, called for the enactment of a law to peg the number of political parties to four or five to grow the nation’s democracy.

“The issue is not de-registration. You cannot wake up to do it because the constitution granted the freedom to belong to any political party,” he remarked.

He further explained that the provision of the Electoral Act cannot override the constitution.

In his view, Mr Chukwuemeka Nnaukwu, a trader, said Nigeria was not yet ripe for 63 political parties.
“My illiterate mother claimed she voted but couldn’t say the party she voted for.

Nnaukwu suggested that the country should either return to the former five political structures it had in 1979 or the two party arrangements introduced by former head of state, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd).

Similarly in Ebonyi, political stakeholders urged INEC to de-register political parties that performed poorly during the general elections.

Mr Jerry Obasi, the Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) in Ebonyi, urged  INEC to de-register the parties that failed to field presidential candidates in the last elections.

“The number of political parties in Nigeria should be reduced to the barest minimum to consolidate on the gains of the just-conducted elections.

“A situation where only 20 political parties fielded presidential candidates in the last elections while others endorsed candidates from other parties is not acceptable,” Obasi said.

Chief Emenike Orji, the ANPP chairman in the state suggested a return to the two-party system practiced during the aborted third republic.

“The performance of many of the political parties in the last elections show that they are merely occupying the political space in the country.

“They are also constituting unnecessary distractions to INEC,’’ Orji said.

Mr Goddy Okafor, the NUJ chairman in Ebonyi, advised Nigerian politicians to put the interest of the nation’s democracy above personal interests.

“Most of these non-functional parties are formed for self-enriching purposes without any motive to contribute to the political development of the country.

“They depend entirely on the Federal Government for sustenance and do not bother to put the relevant political structures on ground,” Okafor told NAN. (NAN)

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