The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC, last week took a far reaching measure in the nation’s polity by deregistering 74 political parties.
Announcing the de-registration in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said they were deregistered for their inability to fulfill requirements for existence based on Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He recalled that prior to the 2019 general election, Nigeria had 91 political parties while one more party was registered by court order after the election, making it a total of 92 political parties. Prof. Yakubu said his Commission’s action was in compliance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which vests in INEC, the power to register and regulate activities of political parties. He said that following the conclusion of the 2019 general election, including court-ordered re-run elections arising from litigations, the Commission was able to determine the performance of political parties in the elections.
The INEC Chairman said that in addition, the parties were also assessed on the basis of their performance in the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the only Local Government elections which INEC was empowered to conduct. He said consequently, the Commission had determined that 16 political parties fulfilled the requirements for existence based on Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution, while 75 parties were listed for deregistration, one of them – Action People’s Party (APP) – obtained a court order restraining the electoral umpire from deregistering it.
While some of the affected political parties and their supporters have cried foul over their deregistration, some have welcomed the development, although it is within the provision of the law of the land for INEC to register and deregister political parties in line with the country’s Constitution, some of the affected parties and their supporters maintain that it was an attempt by the two biggest parties in the land, the All Progressives Congress [APC] and the Peoples Democratic Party[ PDP] to muscle them out of existence.
They argue that even in advanced democracies, relatively smaller political parties are allowed to co-exist with the bigger ones hence this gives democracy its true identity and vivacity.
On the other hand, those in support of INEC’s decision maintain that the electoral empire’s decision to deregister these parties could not have come at a better time than now. They argue that most of the affected political parties were not only unwieldy but have been unable to prove their weight and relevance in the scheme of things, especially in the elections. A situation where some of the affected parties were unable to even win a councillorship not to talk of local government Chairmanship defeats the essence of their existence and relevance. They merely existed as pressure group or associations trying to gain attention and relevance only during elections.
It was a shame of a nation that some of these political parties could not garner up a total of 3,000 votes each in the last elections at all levels put together. Apart from their irrelevance and the problem they constitute even for INEC in the designing of ballot papers thereby making casting of votes cumbersome for most voters as a result of their large numbers, most of these parties have no political value and relevance.
In ur view, some Nigerians have been exploiting the loopholes in the registration of political parties thereby causing this unwieldiness and mushrooming in the entire electoral process, to cause confusion and heating up the polity.
It is imperative of the National Assembly to examine some of these loopholes in conjunction with INEC and enact appropriate laws to stem the tide. The National Assembly should enact the necessary laws to check the abuse of the registration of political parties into fewer and more manageable numbers for the overall progress of our electoral system.