By Omeiza Ajayi & Dirisu Yakubu
The runner-up in February’s presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, has denied planning to lead a street protest over the controversy surrounding the election result.
This came on a day Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, lamented what it described as the growing number of ‘commercial’ platforms masquerading as political parties, saying it would be proposing alterations to constitutional provisions regarding registration and de-registration of political parties in the country as well as timelines for filing some pre-election cases.
Abubakar, who contested the election on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the election tribunal.
One of his main grounds of contesting the result is that the officially declared result is different from that on the computer server of INEC, which the electoral commission has denied.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Paul Ibe, yesterday, Atiku Abubakar said reports he was planning to lead a protest on the matter was false.
The statement read: “I wish to emphatically state that such a statement did not emanate from Atiku Abubakar or his privies. It is the work of mischief makers, who want to mar his spotless pro-democratic record and lay the ground work for their threatened actions against him on false charges of being a threat to national security.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Atiku Abubakar believes in the Rule of Law and in the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In his almost four decades in politics, he has never taken action or spoken words against democracy and will not start now.”
INEC proposes constitution amendment to limit number of political parties
Meanwhile, INEC has lamented what it described as the growing number of ‘commercial’ platforms masquerading as political parties, saying it would be proposing alterations to constitutional provisions regarding registration and de-registration of political parties in the country as well as timelines for filing some preelection cases.
The electoral umpire also announced the registration of Nigeria’s 93rd political party, Boot Party, through the instrumentality of the court, having initially declined to register the political association.
The commission described most of the political platforms as “commercial platforms for hire” in apparent reference to the manner in which tens of political parties usually pledged their allegiances to either of Nigeria’s two major political parties, APC and PDP.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye, who disclosed these during the state-level review of the 2019 general elections in Makurdi, weekend, said: “Nigerians must engage in root and branch review of the number of registered parties in Nigeria.
‘’The presence of too many political parties on our ballot papers has in some instances confused some of our compatriots that are not well endowed in literacy. It has bloated the ballot papers and result sheets and trucking them to the polling units has become a logistics nightmare.”
Flawed, opaque, guerrilla primaries
The commission also faulted political parties for conducting opaque and flawed primaries, which were at the root of the myriads of pre-election matters in various courts.
He said: “The commission believes that the conduct of opaque and flawed party primaries is at the root of the plethora of pre-election matters pending in various courts.
‘’The commission has issued Certificates of Return in some cases based on court orders, withdrawn Certificates of Return based on court orders , restored withdrawn Certificates of Return based on court orders and withdrew the said certificates again based on court orders.”
“The commission will design, and test run a new framework for the monitoring of primaries of political parties. The commission will, henceforth, tie the acceptance of the list of candidates of political parties emanating from party primaries to the authentication of the results of the outcome of the said primaries.
‘’In other words, the commission will not accept the list of nominated candidates that are at variance with the clear intendment of section 87 of the Electoral Act. The commission, therefore, supports the proposition that any political party intending to conduct party primaries shall publish in two national newspapers the date, venue and time for the conduct of the said primaries.