The Independent National Electoral Commission recently de-registered 74 political parties, bringing the number of political parties from 92 to 18.
The 18 survivors of the INEC sledge hammer are: All Progressives Congress (APC) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Accord Party, (AP) Action Alliance (AA), African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), African Democratic Party (ADP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
Others include: Labour Party (LP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), National Rescue Movement (NRM), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Young Progressives Party and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
While the INEC’s action has received commendations and condemnations, the real reasons behind actions have not received much emphasis as the concerns mounted on the gains and pains.
For those in support, the pruning down of political parties would improve the electoral process as logistics challenges like oversized ballot papers, unnecessary overheating of the polity because of large number candidates for an election, amongst others will be reduced.
Even those against, especially the affected political parties, hardly alluded to the reason(s) adduced by INEC as their contention but the fact that the matter is before the court of law.
But INEC on his part has given details while the parties have been de-registered. According to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu are that:
“The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) vests in INEC the power to register and regulate the activities of political parties.
“You will also recall that in 2018, the Constitution was amended. In addition to the extant provision for the registration of political parties, the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution (Section 225A) empowers the Commission to deregister political parties.
“Prior to the Fourth Alteration, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) had provided for the deregistration of political parties. Based on this provision, the Commission, between 2011 and 2013, deregistered 39 political parties.
“However, several of the parties challenged the power of INEC to deregister them, particularly on the ground that the Electoral Act is inferior to the Constitution and that deregistration infringed their fundamental rights under the same Constitution.
“Subsequently, the courts ordered the Commission to reinstate the parties. It was for this reason that the National Assembly amended the Constitution to empower the Commission to deregister political parties on the following grounds:
“Breach of any of the requirements for registration as a political party.
“Failure to win at least 25% of the votes cast in one State of the Federation in a Presidential election or 25% of the votes cast in one Local Government Area of a State in a Governorship election.
“Failure to win at least one ward in a Chairmanship election, one seat in the National or State Assembly election or one seat in a Councillorship election”.
The Chairman also justified that in order to implement the provision of the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution, the Commission carried out an assessment of political parties to determine compliance with the requirements for their registration.
He said, 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.
“In addition, they were also assessed on the basis of their performance in the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which coincided with the 2019 general election. It should be noted that the FCT is the only part of the country where INEC is empowered by the Constitution to conduct Local Government elections”, he added.
While some officials of the the umbrella body of Political Parties, the Inter-party Advisory Council are still threatening legal actions, some members who met the conditions of existence have backed INEC action.
The new IPAC at a press conference in Abuja after they elected the National Chairman of African Action Congress, (AAC) Nzenwa Leonard as it’s Chairman said INEC’s action was the best for democracy to thrive in the country.
The new Chairman accepted that, “the action of INEC flows from the provisions of Section 225 A of the 4th Alteration No. 9 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“The remaining 18 political Parties in Nigeria have met in an emergency meeting to analyze the latest political developments in our country’s electoral system. As you all are aware, the electoral umpire, the INEC announced the deregistration of 74 political parties out of the 92 registered parties, leaving only 18 political parties.
“These 74 Political Party Chairmen who have been sacked by this action are our colleagues and allies who have in very many cases and at various places stood up for Nigeria and defended her cause. Hence our mixed feelings and sobriety.
“However, this action of INEC flows from the provisions of Section 225 A of the 4th Alteration No. 9 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“It is therefore based on the lawfulness of the action of the Commission, the desirability of the need to sanitize the electoral space that we the 18 political parties in Nigeria hereby endorse this bold step by INEC and commend it for this worthy cause. It is this will to implement the law despite whose ox is gored that we require for our nation building”.