The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Wednesday it has rejected 61 association seeking to be registrater as political parties.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu stated this while presenting registration certificates to 21 political parties that were registered in December last year.
Yakubu also said that Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) was also registered and issued with certificates which raised the number of political parties in Nigeria to 68.
“At the moment, 90 applications are under consideration by the commission. Out of this number, 61 associations have failed the initial assessment of their proposed names, logos or acronyms and have been notified,” Yakubu said adding that 25 associations that passed initial assessment have been advised to proceed to the next stage of the registration process.”
“4 associations are undergoing preliminary assessments of the suitability of their proposed names, logos and acronyms,” Yakubu said.
The INEC chairman disclosed that since the registration of the 21 new political parties, the commission has received more applications from associations seeking registration as political parties, assured all associations that the commission will continue to treat each application fairly and on its merit consistent with the provisions of the law.
“For the 21 new political parties, it is pertinent to always remember that your Certificates of Registration not only formalize your status as political parties but also confer obligations on you to operate within the requirements of the law at all times. You must add value to our democracy by adhering to the tenets of democratic norms anchored on the rule of law. In electing your officials as well as candidates for various elective positions, ensure free and transparent processes devoid of rancour. Ensure equal opportunity for all members of your parties irrespective of gender, age or physical disabilities.”
“Your registration is coming close to the 2019 general elections for which the commission has released the timetable and schedule of activities. Later this year, two governorship elections are scheduled in Ekiti State on 14th July and Osun State on 22nd September.”
“It is of utmost importance for political parties to ensure that their respective activities are not only open and democratic but also based on compliance with relevant provisions of your respective constitutions. Internal party democracy is critical to free, fair, credible and cost-effective elections.”
“Where misunderstandings occur, use your Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism to resolve them. Alternatively, you can avail yourselves of the commission’s robust dispute resolution mechanism,” the INEC chairman said adding that conflicts within political parties affect the commission’s preparations for elections just as disputes among political parties on candidature for election sometimes results in endless litigations that deprive citizens of representation and consequently a voice in national and local affairs.
On the 68 number of political parties in the country, Yakubu said it is good for Nigeria’s plural democracy.
“However, political parties must cooperate with the commission for successful elections. If each of the 68 political parties in Nigeria today fields candidates for all the 1,558 constituencies to be contested in the 2019 general elections, the commission will grapple with 105,944 candidates.”
” If you consider the management and logistics of providing ballot papers for a projected 80 million registered voters, ad-hoc staff and the requirements for forward and reverse logistics, monitoring of political party primaries, electioneering campaign, campaign finance, voter education, accreditation of national/international observers and the media, the task is enormous. I wish to assure Nigerians that we are aware of the challenges. We are also up to the task. The key is success is forward planning and that is why we took the unprecedented step of releasing the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections in good time. The Commission appeals to political parties to adhere strictly to the 2019 election timelines. The Commission will not hesitate to reject the submission by any party that violates the timelines,” Yakubu added.
The National Commissioner/Chair, EPMC, INEC headquarters, Prof Antonia T Simbine reminded the political parties about its traditional functions.
“These include: breeding consensus, playing the role of specialized aggregation structures, recruiting candidates ‘for office, educate the public, political socialization and operating Government and implementing the manifesto of the party when in power. When out of power, parties ought to assume the role of watchdog over government and therefore act as loyal opposition. Finally, within a complex society like ours, because conflict is inevitable and reducing conflict is important, this is also a function that political parties are expected to perform.”
“Second, it is important to emphasize that the registration of your respective associations is because you met the constitutional requirements for registration as political parties. Accordingly, I wish to remind you that the Commission, in line With its constitutional powers, will effectively monitor your activities to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations governing the existence of your associations as fully functional political parties,” she said.
Simbine added that it was appropriate to remind the political parties of the constitutional requirements for your existence as registered political parties that is provided at Sections 222(a-f) and 223 (1&2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).
“Among other requirements, the Constitution requires that as registered political parties, you must always maintain a functional National Headquarters address in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Additionally, members of your National Executive Committees must not only reflect Federal Character but also have tenures that are renewed at intervals not exceeding four (4) years.”
“The Commission on its part will at regular intervals carry out verification exercises/visits, to your offices to ensure continued compliance with relevant laws/regulations governing their existence as political parties.
“It is pertinent to note that at the conclusion of a review of the compliance status of registered political parties done in August 2017, seventeen (17) out of the then forty-six (46) registered political parties had no functional offices in the FCT. Additionally, about eighteen (18) of the then forty-six (46) registered political parties had invalid National Executive Committees whose tenures had expired and/or where not reflective of the Federal Character of Nigeria as required by the Constitution,” she added.
On his part, the IPAC chairman, Mohammed Nalado said his group was very happy not because they were welcoming new political parties on board, added that the presence of women and youth in IPAC was very important.
“We hope you will play the game by its rule,” Nalado told the chairmen of the newly registered political parties.
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