Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Centre for Democracy Development (CDD) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), recently hosted politicians and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the number of political parties which has increased from 38 in 2015 to 68 parties while over 100 political associations are seeking registration from INEC.
The Director of the CDD, Idayat Hassan represented by the Senior Programme Officer, MrShamsudeen Yusuf, at the Nigerian Political Parties Discussion Series (NPPDS) themed “Discussion on the Increasing Number of Political Parties in Nigeria and Access to Ballots in 2019 General Elections” in Abuja said the right to freedom of association as espoused in the Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) is a global practice. According to him, while this may be considered as a sign of political development, some have argued that it may challenge smooth conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2019
. “In different fora, for example, the electoral umpire averred that parties’ proliferation will lead to production of long ballot papers that could possibly confuse voters on Election Day. However, the argument for a limited number of political parties raises fundamental questions about the country’s search for an improved democratic process
. Thus, through the NPPDS platform, the issues are being addressed to improved electoral and democratic development in the country. The Director of Election and Party Monitoring (EPM),Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),MrAminuIdris said that it would not recognise factional or parallel congresses by political parties, apart from the Working Committee (NWC) of the parties.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) MallamBolajiAbdullahi, said disagreements at party congresses are normal everywhere but that the violence witnessed in the party’s congresses in parts of the country was condemnable.
The National Chairman of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), Chief Peter Ameh, said there should not be hindrance to the formation and registration of political parties in the country and that the 68 registered parties in the country were even lower compare to some African countries with smaller population and democratic sizes having higher number of registered parties.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Emmanuel Agbo, also said that there should be no restriction on the number of parties and also commended the Supreme Court judgement that civil servants can be registered members of political parties.