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INEC’s decision is an ambush, says Nwankwo

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Clement Nwankwo is the Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)

Mixed reactions have trailed INEC’s decision to remove the names of 74 political parties from its register, particularly when as many as 30 states of the federation are yet to conduct local council elections.

Stakeholders in the nation’s electoral circles picked holes in the electoral commission’s rush to reduce the number of political parties without allowing the parties to exhaust the constitutional provisions for them to prove their acceptability in the polity.

The Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr. Clement Nwankwo, noted that although INEC acted on Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which set out the criteria for delisting registered political parties, the fact that the electoral process has not been consummated with the complement of council elections crowns the decision as an ambush.

On her part, Director General of Nigeria Women Trust Fund, Ms. Mufuliat Fijabi, who spoke on the implications of INEC’s sledge hammer on some political parties on the participation of women in the democratic process, said: “The effect on women is more around which platforms to operate. The many political parties gave opportunities for women to have voices and space, which at times the leading political parties do not give to more women.”

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Fijabi was, however, quick to observe that in spite of the space and platform provided to women, the status of some of the political parties was also counterproductive, since according to her the deregistered political parties lacked the institutional strength to fully support the candidacy of women politicians in elections.

“For instance lot of female aspirants and candidates in the 2019 General Elections were short-changed by some of these political parties. The effect on women’s political participation is both positive and negative. Positive in that women will be free from candidacy that lacked true and resourceful political party support and negative in that the number of women aspirants and candidates will reduce.

“One of the effects is that there will be closer attention to the few political parties and the electoral process will be more focused. INEC will also not have to print long ballot papers. Generally there will be ease of coordination. The issue of fairness or otherwise rests with the Constitutional and Electoral Act Provision and not necessarily with INEC, because the political parties deregistered can also resort to the laws for fairness and protection.”

Meanwhile, one of the fringe political parties that survived INEC’s big stick, the opposition Action Democratic Party (ADP) has urged members of the deregistered parties across the country to join its fold.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Adelaja Adeoye, maintained that the ADP remains the most credible party in the country, remarking that ADP’s recent nationwide verification exercise showed that the party exists not just on paper, but very strong at the grassroots, across the 774 local governments in the country.

This is as the National Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, told The Guardian that most the affected parties were already working with ADC to fuse together.

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His words: “I got wind of the deregistration of the parties from New York. I have not been able to discuss with my colleague national chairmen to properly cast my views. Before this time, about 64 political parties have been meeting to fuse together. I do not have the list yet but I think it is really of no effect.

“Most of the parties you have mentioned in the list are already working together with ADC and Labour Party to give Nigeria a new lifeline as far as party politics is concerned. We shall form that party.
Nigerians can no longer do PDP and APC politics any longer. They have become too toxic and will destroy our democracy.

“For INEC, I hope they used a quality and fair methodology because they are really part of the big problem. INEC as it is presently needs to be deconstructed. ADC shall push for the dismantling of INEC and to remove all the political appointees and get well-trained electoral management personnel to lead INEC. We have quality officers in INEC but the political appointees see the place as Harlem of fortunes.

The party system will purge itself; we are a new democracy. But the culture must change fast.”

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