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From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disqualified 61 political associations seeking registration as political parties for failing to meet up with the requirements.
Commission’s Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, who made the disclosure while issuing certificates of registration to the 21 newly-registered political parties, revealed that out of the 90 political associations seeking registration, the 25 which scaled the first hurdle will proceed to the next stage of the registration.
He warned that the commission would not hesitate to reject the submission of any party that violates the timelines, and admitted that though managing the number of parties, if they decide to field candidates for the general elections will be challenging, the commission is, however, up to the task.
“Since the registration of the 21 new political parties, the Commission has received more applications from associations seeking registration as political parties. At the moment, 90 applications are still under consideration. Out of this number, 61 associations have failed the initial assessment of their proposed names, logos or acronyms and have been notified.
“25 associations that passed initial assessment have been advised to proceed to the next stage of the registration process. Four associations are undergoing preliminary assessments of the suitability of their proposed names, logos and acronyms. I wish to assure all associations that the Commission will continue to treat each application fairly and on its merit consistent with the provisions of the law.
“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 to success is 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 of any party that violates the timelines.
“For our part, the Commission will continue to ensure the institutional growth of all political parties by collaborating with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC).
“Your registration is coming close to the 2019 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 July 14, and Osun State on September 22.
“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. 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.
“The number of political parties is good for our 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 2019, the Commission will grapple with 105,944 candidates,” he said.
Congratulating the new parties, the INEC boss added that “in compliance with the judgment of the Federal High Court, the Commission has registered the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). We have already issued the Certificate of Registration to the SPN.
“The number of new political parties has risen to 22 in addition to the 46 parties already in existence. This means the total number of political parties in Nigeria today stands at 68,” said Yakubu.