By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, said it was worried over the number of associations that have applied to be registered as political parties ahead of the 2023 general election.
The commission said it was perturbed that except there was an urgent reform of the extant electoral law in the country, over 200 political parties might participate in the next general election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made the revelation at an Electoral Reform Roundtable organised by Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, in conjunction with Kofi Annan Foundation, lamented that the number of associations seeking to be allowed to field candidates in 2023 were more than the existing political parties.
Yakubu, who was represented at the event by INEC’s National Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye, equally lamented that the commission has over 809 pre-election cases that were still pending in courts, adding that over 70 Certificates of Return have been withdrawn from various candidates that emerged from the 2019 polls.
800 pre-election cases pending in courts
He said: “Let me just say that one of the biggest challenges the commission has as at today, relates to the plethora of pre-election matters that are still pending in the various courts of law.
“As at today, the commission has in its docket a total of 809 pre-election matters, while we have 800 post-election matters.
“As at yesterday (Tuesday), the commission has withdrawn and issued over 70 Certificates of Return that were previously issued to those that were elected into states and National Assembly positions. There are more we are still withdrawing and there are more we are still issuing.
“Some of these issues arose as a result of what we called not too transparent primary elections conducted by political parties, and this is really a source of concern that up till today, there are still cases arising from pre-election matters that are still pending in courts.
“We have also expressed concern over the number and quality of political parties in Nigeria. Our ballot papers are getting longer, the result sheets are getting bigger and it is also creating a big challenge for the voters in the field.
“I think we need to have a national conversation on this matter to see if we really need the number of political parties in existence in the country.
“This is because as at today, the number of political parties fighting to be registered can be said to be more than the number of political parties already in existence.
“The implication is that if we register all the political associations that have applied for registration, we are going to go into the 2023 general elections with over 200 political parties. I do not know whether this is really what the Nigerian people need.’’
FG’ll look into recommendations—Osinbajo
In his speech, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Dr. Ibe Awosika, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would look into recommendations from both national and international observers that monitored the 2019 general elections.
EU, UN call for urgent electoral reform
On its part, the European Union, through its Ambassador, Ketil Karlsen, said there was need for the Federal Government to have the political will to implement recommendations in reports that emanated from various observers that participated in the 2019 general elections.
He decried that the desired electoral reform in the country might be hampered because of fear by some of the political actors that it might affect their chance in future elections.
Similarly, Secretary General of United Nations, who was represented by Dr. Mohammed Chambas, said there was need for Nigeria to consciously work towards increasing the number of women and youths that participate in active politics.