This is to unequivocally applaud the recent decision of INEC to deregister seventy four non-viable political parties and to say that this is constitutional and legally justified.
Expressly, section 225(A) of the 1999 Constitution as amended (introduced by the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution) empowers INEC to deregister political parties on any of the following seven grounds-
(i) Breach of any of the requirements for registration as a political party.
(ii) Failure to win at least 25% of the votes cast in one State of the Federation in a Presidential election, or
(iii) Failure to win at least 25% of the votes cast in one Local Government Area of a State in a Governorship election.
(iv) Failure to win at least one ward in a Chairmanship election,
(v) Failure to win at least one seat in the National Assembly election, or
(vi) Failure to win at least one seat in the
State Assembly election, or
(vii) Failure to win at least one seat in a Councillorship election.
Needless to say that the above preconditions are reasonable, liberal and tolerant.
Any political party that cannot satisfy at least one of these seven conditions has no business occupying our democratic space.
Political parties are not cottage industries that can mushroom anyhow without legal regulation in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Constitution regulates the procedure for the formation, powers and functions of political parties including their deregisteration as already demonstrated.
The same 1999 Constitution as amended makes it impossible for independent candidacy.
The jurisprudence has further emerged through judicial decisions that votes in an election belong to political parties.
Thus, only INEC registered political parties can sponsor candidates and or canvass for votes in an election.
It is expected that INEC deregistering of constitutionally non-viable political parties will reduce the embarrassing incidences of missing logo or unlawful exclusion of political parties from the ballot experienced in past general elections because of the unwieldy number of political parties participating in the said elections.
At least, the prunning down of the number of registered political parties will ensure that, going forward, ballot papers will not be riddled information overload.
The ballot papers used in the concluded 2019 general election is a bundle of confusion for the voter because of the legion of political parties on it some of which have strikingly similar logos, names or acronyms.
Out of abundant caution and for record purposes, the names of the surviving eighteen INEC recognised political parties are listed alphabetically as follows –
- Accord (A)
- Action Alliance (AA)
3 African Action Congress (AAC)
- African Democratic Congress (ADC)
- Action Democratic Party (ADP)
- All Progressives Congress (APC)
- All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)
- Allied People’s Movement (APM)
- Action People’s Party (APP)
- Boot Party (BP)
- Labour Party (LP)
- New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP)
- National Rescue Movement (NRM)
- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
- Peoples Redemption Party (PRP)
- Social Democratic Party (SDP)
- Young Progressive Party (YPP)
- Zenith Labour Party (ZLP)
To have had 92 registered political parties before now some of which are mere paper tigers with many others operating as family enterprises only in Hotel lobbies in Abuja makes mockery of the idea of multi-party democracy envisaged in our constitutional democracy.
Kudos to INEC for doing the constitutionally needful.
A new normal is possible!
Prof Obiaraeri is my name a 5-Star Civilian General etc.