Political analysts have said that having 91 political parties in a developing country such as Nigeria is ‘unnecessary, awkward and abysmal.’
They made the assertion while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos on political developments in the country.
NAN reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission, on August 16, issued certificates to 23 newly registered political parties, raising the number of registered parties in Nigeria to 91.
INEC, in a statement issued by its National Commissioner and Member, Voter Education and Publicity Committee, Mohammed Haruna, in Abuja, said that it was the last round of registration of parties until after the general elections on February 16, 2019.
“This suspension is in line with Section 78 (1) of the Electoral Act, which requires all applications for registration as political party to be concluded latest six months to a general election,” INEC had said.
Earlier, Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had explained that the Commission would continue to register any association that meets the legal requirements for registration as political party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Once associations meet the legal requirements as political parties, the Commission is under obligation to register them; but the law also provides for a period of six months to general elections.
A Professor of Political Science at the National Open University of Nigeria, Femi Otubanjo, told NAN that INEC was a victim rather than a villain in the act of registration of political parties.
According to Otubanjo, their hands are tied by the Constitution. They have no choice but to register parties that have met the prerequisites for registration.
However, Otubanjo said, “Registering more parties is awkward and unnecessary, though, we cannot rule out the fact that these minor parties that are registering can transform into major political parties.
“But again, the ideological space does not allow for so many parties. People can always stick to two or three political parties.
“INEC is not the one creating this problem; the problem is already embedded in our Constitution and I do not think any good will come out of reviewing the Constitution in this regard,” he said.
Otubanjo said that INEC would have to produce an understandable documentation of ballot papers as well as embark on more voter education to manage the situation.
He said it would be cumbersome dealing with over 90 political parties.
“’What this means is that INEC has to do more work by producing a more acceptable and understandable documentation, particularly the voters’ list or ballot list for voting and have more materials on the day of election
“INEC will have to do more voter education, which is where the challenge is right now. They need to educate voters to know the different symbols of political parties.
“It will be more difficult work for INEC, because it will not be easy to conduct an election with huge, longish ballot paper in a largely illiterate country,” Otubanjo said.