By Samson Atekojo Usman
Deregistration of 74 political parties last week by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was not only justice served on the political ecosystem of Nigeria, but a development that is within the precinct of the electoral umpire that register and regulate activities of political parties vide 225A of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
As the only institution empowered to sanction political parties in Nigeria, the Commission has nonetheless, proved that it can’t be intimidated and cowed into submitting its mandate to mediocrity.
Prior to the 2019 general election, political parties in Nigeria surged to 94, but one rarely see these political parties function other than their names with almost all of them without offices. Activities of these political parties ends in briefcase cases and laptops, a situation that is at variance with the requirements of having a compulsory head office in Abuja, the nation’s capital. What raises grave concern too, is one would see these political parties beefing up their political activities only when elections are approaching while they would suddenly start pairing offices with their friends in order to sell nomination forms. Majority of them lack structures anywhere, but would fail to disclose to the unsuspecting aspirant(s) who might have defected to their party due to unresolved issues somewhere else.
Capitalising on their possessive legal status, they rushed to courts in the guise of protecting their aspirants/candidates once they are disqualified from contesting elections due to defective informations supplied in the nomination form. As a result of this, therefore, Nigeria Courts have been inundated with legal cases by these political parties in surreptitious attempt to nullify elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
It’s worrisome too, that some Chairmen of their political parties are also candidates of Parties contesting elections to various offices without resigning from the offices as provided in their ‘rule books.’
The disturbing situation which is against the party Constitution in Nigeria requires any executive aspiring for any elective office on the same party platform to first resign his position, but this provision, more often than not, have been abused, thereby causing confusion within the party fold all over the places.
In buttressing this ugly scenario is the African Democratic Party, ADP’s Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani who is the Chairman of the Party, but contested the 2019 election and became the Presidential candidate without resignation from the office as Party national Chairman.
His action sparked intractable crisis with allegation by the National Working Committee (ADP) that he tampered with some clauses in the party’s constitution to perpetuate himself in office as well as allegation that he embezzled about N200 million being proceeds from the sales of nomination forms.
The ADP National Working Committee suspended him for his refusal to pay entitlements of other national executives.
Like Engr. Yabagi, some other smaller political parties runs foul of this, thereby jeopardising the destiny of their political parties as their action causes crises that touches the very foundation of their political parties. The implication is not only weakening the party, but creates factions among the feuding members that eventually ends in courts.
As some of these parties continue to have legal fireworks in court over supremacy battle among itself because of the internal crisis, the development undoubtedly, aids the two dominant parties – APC and PDP to continue having their field day in winning elections across the nation at all levels.
On the other hand, doors of these political parties are open to ‘mushrooming’ activities as candidates who luckily get elected on these parties platform, normally defect to either APC or PDP midway into their tenures of offices. It therefore, means they only picked a platform to get what they want and later retreated to their original party platform. This is not only an unwholesome practices, but highly unideological in a country that need to consolidate on its democractic gains.
It is imperative that the INEC should look at activities of other spared 17 political parties in the strength of its powers to downsize in order to properly sanitize the system as Nigerians approach the 2023 general election.
Since the disbandment came publicly, there was no defeaning criticism of the INEC’s move, suggesting that the development was most needed in view of nuisances those defunct political parties might have posed, thereby, endangering Nigeria’s democracy.
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