INEC unveils plans on party registration, pre-election suits, others

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has admitted that the current framework for the registration of political parties is inadequate to guarantee the registration of qualitative, membership-driven and ideologically propelled political parties in Nigeria.

The commission therefore unveiled plans to cause constitution amendment on party registration and other things.

The commission revealed that no fewer than 93 political associations applied for consideration as political parties after the 2019 general election, disclosing that the commission would also propose constitution and legal alteration that would ensure disposal or determination of all pre-election matters before the conduct of elections.

National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, who made the disclosure at the ongoing review of the 2019 elections, said the commission had resolved to correct some of the mistakes made during the last elections and apply the lessons learnt in improving the regime of the electoral process.

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Commenting on the political parties in Nigeria, he said: “The Chairman of the INEC has flagged off conversation relating to the number and quality of political parties in Nigeria. Presently, there are 91 registered political parties in Nigeria and 73 of the said political parties fielded candidates for the 2019 presidential elections.

“As at the time the commission suspended registration of new political parties before the 2019 general elections, 11 associations had paid the one million naira administrative fee for registration. Out of the 11, one (Boot Party) was formally advised that its application failed but later the Commission was informed by the Legal Department that the said party had been registered through the instrumentality of the court.

“Another three of the 11 were making corrections to their applications. Another three of the 11 were awaiting verification visit from the commission. Four of the 11 were yet to return their application Form PA.

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“Additionally, since the conclusion of the 2019 elections, new associations have applied to be registered as political parties, thus joining the 79 associations that failed initial assessment of the suitability of their proposed names and or logos.

“Nigerians must engage in root and branch review of the number of registered parties in Nigeria. The present framework for the registration of political parties is inadequate to guarantee the registration of qualitative, membership-driven and ideologically propelled political parties.

“Some of the political parties are mere platforms and have no concrete and visible presence in most states of the federation. The presence of too many political parties on our ballot papers has, in some instances, confused some of out compatriots that are not well endowed in literacy. It has bloated the ballot papers and result sheets and trucking them to the polling units has become a logistics nightmare.

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“INEC will present alternatives to the Nigerian people, including alteration of the constitutional regime that ties registration of political parties to visible, verifiable and concrete presence and structures in at least half of the states of the federation. The Commission will also propose a rational and democratic threshold for getting on the ballot and save the Nigerian people the phenomena of ‘also ran.’

“We will also propose further alteration of the conditions for the deregistration of political parties as the 4th Alteration to the Constitution is inadequate to weed out dormant and commercial platforms with little or no visible structures and presence in any of the states of the federation.”

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