Aborisade: Continuous party registration should be encouraged
Founding member of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and human rights lawyer, Comrade Femi Aborisade, says he will continue to support the registration of more political parties as long as they satisfy the conditions for registration. The activist is also urging Nigerians to resist attempts by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to turn the country into one party state. He spoke to SEYE OLUMIDE.
Do you support the continuous registration of more political parties by INEC, despite that there are 45 of them already in existence?
YES, I am absolutely in support of continuous registration of more political parties as long as they meet the necessary requirements of law for registration. I will never support in any form, any attempt to discourage the association of any group of Nigerians to participate in the political process, carried out by any organisation, body or individuals, be it INEC, the Nigerian Police or whatever, as long as such people meet the requirement of law to associate, participate and contribute to the democratic process.
I repeat, no public officer has the right to disenfranchise, or stop anybody from associating or participating in the political process. I have my reasons for emphasising on this because the present political handlers are up to a scheme and we need to stand up to them.
But most of the existing political parties are not making any serious contributions to the political process?
If I get you right, most of the political parties have no representatives even at the local council level, not to talk of state or national levels. But the position is, whether the parties are functioning or not, the electorate should be left to determine their existence. The only reason INEC can deregister any party or refuse to register any is when such parties fail to meet the requirements for registration. Any party that does not satisfy the conditions for registration as stipulated in the constitution should go, provided they were given fair hearing.
I emphasise on fair hearing because at present, I am representing some deregistered political parties, which sued INEC for unjust and arbitrary deregistration in court. And looking into their arguments, I mean the affected parties, it is clear they were not given fair hearing before INEC hammered them.
But how can the electorate get the best out of these fringe parties, in order to deepen the political process?
The most important thing we need to recognise is the fact that political parties do not exist to participate in the electoral process alone. What I mean is that the functions of political parties are not limited to winning elections and having representatives in government only. It does not necessarily mean that political parties must win seats to continue to exist. We need to change this orientation. One of the basic functions of a party is to educate, enlighten and guide the conscience of the electorate in a democratic good setting.
Why we are having problem in this country is mainly because the two major political parties have commercialised the political process. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the major Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have hijacked and bastardised the wealth of the country such that nothing else makes meaning except what they dictate or want. That is the orientation we need to change if we ever hope to have a democracy that will be of benefit to the masses. At present, the few elite controlling the political process in the APC and PDP are not willing to let go unless we confront them.
Are you concerned that Nigeria may end up being a one party state?
This is one danger we must resist and this is where your input and mine is required. We need to fight this to a stop. This is the plan of the ruling APC to turn Nigeria into one party state.
The party has not been fair to the electorate and neither has it kept to it promises. It deceived Nigerians during the campaign in 2014 and 2015 that it would provide free education but up till today education is not free and there is not even a move by the party in that direction. To buttress the point you raised in your question, do you know that some political parties have satisfied the conditions in the constitution for registration, but INEC refused to register them up till now. It is therefore clear and obvious there was a plan to turn the country into one party state.
How can this be resisted?
Nigerians need to stand on their feet in the street to protest against any form of arbitrary and tyranny that the APC represents in the country. We also need to take INEC to task and ensure it continues to register as many as possible associations that meet the necessary requirements of law for registration as political parties. We must also resist the lies that some parties are fringe parties because they did not win elective position. Look at what the APC is doing in the last two years after the PDP destroyed and bastardised the nation’s wealth for 16 years. This is nothing different from what the PDP did.