The Independent National Electoral Commission has maintained its stand against the registration of politically weak parties within the nation.
During a workshop titled ‘Validation Session: Needs Assessment of Political Parties in Nigeria’, the Acting Director of the Department of Election and Party Monitoring at INEC, Hajiya Hauwa Habib, made this known.
The event, coordinated by The Kukah Centre and financially supported by the European Union, constituted an integral part of Component III of the European Union’s initiative to enhance democratic governance in Nigeria.
According to Habib, the process of registering a political party necessitates the proponents possessing a membership base consisting of 24 individuals hailing from all 24 states in addition to the Federal Capital Territory.
Habib said, “We see them as ‘briefcase political parties. Sometimes the chairman and secretary hijack the political party because they registered it from inception and all the members were not necessarily financial members.
“The chairman, secretary, and treasurer continue to dominate everything about the political party. In their constitutions, they assign duties and schedules to every executive member. The financial secretary, welfare secretary, and publicity secretary are not allowed to perform their duties once the party is registered.
“In the long run, when it is a year or two until the election, you find the secretary and the chairman struggling over who owns the party. Thereabout, you find factionalization; they give us problems during elections, rush to the courts, and the courts are not helping matters.
“There was a political party in 2018 that got registered with only four members. While Section 223 of the Constitution tells you that there are 24 members minimum in 24 states and the FCT, Now, these people are all from the south-west; there are four of them. They went to court, and the court insisted that they should be on the ballot. Of course, they have been deregistered because they are not a serious political party.
“They think that membership in a political party in Nigeria is a joke. It is through the political parties that governance and government are given to citizens.
“How do you think a political party with 24 people running it can perform without a presence at the local level during elections? When asked whether INEC is overstretched and should be unbundled, she said certain duties, such as investigation, should be removed from the commission.
“The moment we conduct elections and the certificate of return is issued, we have done our job,” Habib noted.