The Socialist Party of Nigeria, (SPN) on Friday rejected the decision of the Independent National Electoral commission, (INEC), to deregister SPN and other 73 political parties for allegedly failing to win elective posts or obtain 25 per cent of any election in 2019 elections.
The party’s Acting National Chairperson, Abiodun Bamigboye and National Secretary, Chinedu Bosah in a statement said INEC action was undemocratic and represented an assault on the rights of working people for political representation.
The party threatened to resist, both legally and politically, “this undemocratic action”.
It would be recalled that INEC was, in the first place, forced to register the party by legal and political action.
According to the party, the capitalist ruling elite, whose interest the INEC primarily represents, do not want a party with a bold socialist alternative programme and that promotes the interest of the working masses, youth and the poor.
“This was why the INEC did not initially register the party despite having fulfilled all constitutional and legal requirements. It took the party over three years of struggle before it forced the INEC to register it in November 2017”, it said.
SPN called on the wider labour movement, pro-masses organisations, civil society and activists to condemn the action and build a campaign of legal and political actions including press campaign, protest and demonstrations to resist this attack on the right to political representation.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, the parties were deregistered because they breached the requirements for registration.
“This is a reference to Section 225A of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides the following grounds for deregistration: Failure to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in: (i) one state of the federation in a presidential election; or (ii) one local government of a state in a governorship election and Failure to win at least: (i) one ward in the chairmanship election, (ii) one seat in the National or State House of Assembly election; or (iii)one seat in a Councillorship election.
However, SPN objected to the action and decision of the INEC on the basis of the above stated clause in the 1999 constitution firstly because the clause itself was undemocratic and was smuggled into the 1999 constitution through a recent constitution amendment done by the members of the National Assembly in order to accomplish the deregistration of the political parties.
“Besides, the action was too hasty and is at variance with the section 225A upon which INEC claimed its action is predicated.
“According to this section 225A all elections including the staggered and local government elections through which councillorship position can be contested and won are meant to be completed.
“Until when all these elections are completed, the accurate proportion of votes secured and number of seats won by political parties following their expected participation cannot be ascertained.
“Our position therefore is that INEC cannot rely on this Section of the 1999 constitution as the basis for the deregistration of the political parties given the fact that virtually all states across the country have not only failed to conduct local government election but also that even the state and national elections conducted by INEC itself are far from being free and fair.
“The 2019 general elections was acknowledged by both local and international observers as one of the worst in the nation’s history.
“Vote buying, ballot snatching, violence, rigging, breakdown of card readers, underage voting and other forms of electoral malpractices took place during the elections.
“Many INEC staff were arrested and prosecuted for aiding malpractices something which further confirms that the commission itself knows the last elections were far from being fee and fair.
“This miserable record has continued with the violence and open rigging in the Kogi and Bayelsa elections”, the party said.
It said the contention that pro-rich capitalist parties like APC and PDP and their satellites in some of the 16 other parties that were not deregistered were the ones mostly responsible for this kind of large scale manipulation because they were dominated by moneybag politicians and have unholy access and control over the state resources.
While noting that none of the big pro-rich political parties had been penalised as prescribed in the electoral laws for breaching the rules or engaging in malpractices during campaigns and elections, SPN said It was total hypocrisy for INEC to turn a blind eye to what the major capitalist parties are doing.
“It is in the light of this that we of the SPN strongly hold that INEC having failed miserably its constitutional mandate to provide a level playing ground by organizing free and fair 2019 general elections had no right to activate section 225A of the constitution to deregister political parties for allegedly breaching the requirements for registration.
“Instead, it is the INEC chairman and his kitchen cabinet who should be sacked for mismanaging the last general elections something which affected the chances of smaller parties like the SPN”, it added.