AS Nigeria gets set for the 2020/2023 electoral cycle, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Thursday, February 6, 2020, announced the deregistration of 74 out of the 91 odd political parties which took part in the 2019 general elections. The electoral umpire now has 18 political parties on its register.
The Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said the delisted political parties no longer met the requirements for them to continue to exist.
Based on Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) among others, the Commission as part of its regulatory functions has the power to monitor the activities and books of all registered political parties. It is in the pole position to know the parties that truly exist and those that exist only on paper.
As expected, 33 aggrieved deregistered political parties have cashed in on their constitutional right to seek legal redress, but the INEC insists that the pendency of their court action could not hamstring it from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.
We are fully on the same page with the electoral umpire for this bold step taken to sanitise our political party register. There is no arguing the fact that we need to provide as much space as possible for the healthy growth of our multi-party system as it will bode well for our democracy.
The struggle by the late legal legend, Gani Fawehinmi, for the registration of more political parties to prevent the imposition of a two-party system through impunity was meant to encourage a wider shade of political representation, participation, opinion and ideology. But what we have seen in recent years amounts to a cynical abuse of that vision.
Registration and “ownership” of political parties were turned into just another hustle by political opportunists. Many of the deregistered political parties did not have any fixed addresses. They never fielded candidates let alone win elections.
Many of them were registered and used to “adopt” preferred candidates of the two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – wherever they held the power of incumbency.
Their facilitators made the “killings” during elections after which they returned to dormancy till the next elections. This political fraud helped to give even discredited incumbents the veneer of false legitimacy that enabled them to steal elections and get away scot-free.
Besides that, their presence on the ballots made voting a nightmare because of the length and clutter of names and symbols on the ballot papers.
We commend the INEC and encourage it to keep removing unserious political parties from our register, while also ensuring that new political parties that qualify for registration are licenced.
We must keep political fraudsters at bay and deprive them the joy of benefiting from INEC’s subventions.