Nigeria has only 25 registered political parties, contrary to a newspaper’s report that there are 25 opposition parties in the country, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega has said.
He also denied the national daily’s report that “25 opposition political parties” walked out on him during a pre-election stakeholders’ meeting between the commission and political parties in Osun State on Thursday.
Through his chief press secretary, Kayode Idowu, Jega said that the meeting was well attended and that the number of parties that participated in it was not up to 25 as alleged in the media report.
Kayode said: “One: there are no ’25 opposition parties’ in Nigeria as of today. All the parties existing in the country at present – ‘opposition’ and ‘non-opposition’ – are 25; and not every one of them was represented at the Osogbo meeting.
“Two: the said meeting lasted well beyond 2pm on Thursday, and it was fully attended till the end. Of all the political parties that were in attendance, the representatives of only three made an issue of the incumbent Osun State resident electoral commissioner – to which the INEC chairman responded that verifiable evidence was needed to substantiate allegations levelled against the REC.
“In the course of the proceedings, the representatives of one party rallied its supporters to leave the meeting auditorium. In fact, representatives of the two other parties that had raised the issue stayed behind with all other participants till the end of the meeting.”
Before the commission’s pruning of political parties for poor performance at elections, INEC had registered no fewer than 50 political parties.
Meanwhile, Jega has appealed to the European Union (EU) for funding in the areas of voter education and training.
He commended the EU for its role in previous Nigerian elections and expressed INEC’s readiness to receive the union’s pre-election mid-term review report.
Jega spoke yesterday when he hosted the EU ambassador to Nigeria, Michel Arrion, at the commission’s office in Abuja.
The INEC chief thanked the EU for contributing to the joint donor basket fund, saying it had helped to support democracy, governance and development in Nigeria.
He appealed to the EU to support processes which INEC considers beneficial, pointing out that as “we move towards 2015, outside the basket fund, there is need for additional collaboration and cooperation in a number of areas, especially in voter education”.
Jega stressed that development partners could intervene in the information dissemination exercise, noting that television and radio enlightenment campaigns were expensive ventures to the commission.
“If there are other areas where challenges have been noticed and where there are suggestions, they can be addressed; we will be delighted to get the suggestions,” he said.
Jega disclosed that INEC would increase interaction and relationship and exchange of information to develop competence and professionalism, saying the EU support would be welcome.