INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
Sunday PUNCH can affirm that no fewer than 124 political teams that utilized for registration as political events have been technically excluded from taking part within the 2023 normal elections by the Impartial Nationwide Electoral Fee.
This, by implication, implies that solely the 18 events that survived the fee’s final deregistration in 2020 will take part within the forthcoming elections.
It was reported on December 26, 2021, that 101 political associations had utilized to the fee for registration. The Deputy Director, SERVICOM at INEC, Olayide Okuonghae, in his response to a Freedom of Data request despatched by Sunday PUNCH, stated the 101 associations utilized between 2019 and December 14, 2021.
His response learn partly, “In reference to your letter dated December 9, 2021, the commission wishes to inform you that from 2019 to December 14, 2021, a total of 101 political associations forwarded their letters of intent to be registered as political parties.”
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, confirmed the event to one in every of our correspondents in December, however famous that the fee couldn’t reveal the names of the associations as a result of they’d not been permitted as political events.
It was, nevertheless, learnt that 23 extra political associations utilized for registration between December 14, 2021, and March 25, 2022.
An INEC interim report sighted by one in every of our correspondents confirmed that as of March 25, 2022, no fewer than 124 purposes have been obtained by the fee. Nevertheless, not one of the associations has been registered.
The report learn partly, “As of March 2022, the fee had on file a complete of 124 letters of intent from numerous political associations in search of to use for registration as political events. The abstract of the standing of the associations is that 97 associations out of 116 have been suggested that their proposed names, acronyms or logos weren’t appropriate or accessible for registration.
“Eleven of the associations that received letters of non-suitability of their proposed names/acronyms/logos resubmitted letters of intent with amended names/acronyms/logos. Sixteen associations submitted fresh letters of intent.”
Requested whether or not INEC would nonetheless register new political events earlier than the 2023 elections, Oyekanmi stated on Friday that the ultimate resolution on whether or not or to not register a brand new political social gathering earlier than the elections rested completely with the fee, a system he stated he wouldn’t pre-empt.
He stated, “The submission of an utility by an affiliation or group for registration as a political social gathering is the start line of an elaborate and rigorous course of. It, due to this fact, takes time and plenty of effort from when an utility is submitted to the day the certificates of registration is given.
“Section 75 of the Electoral Act, 2022 says any political association that complies with the provisions of the constitution and the Act for the purposes of registration shall be registered as a political party provided, however, that such an application for registration shall be duly submitted to the commission not later than 12 months before a general election.”
The 2023 Normal Elections Venture Plan launched by INEC final month additionally tasks 18 political events for subsequent yr’s elections.
With June 3, 2022, as INEC’s deadline for political events to conclude their primaries, it appears clear that no new social gathering will be capable to take part within the normal elections.
A number of calls, SMS and WhatsApp messages despatched to the INEC Nationwide Commissioner and Chairman of its Data and Voter Training Committee, Festus Okoye, for response weren’t picked or replied to.
Nevertheless, a Nationwide Commissioner in INEC, who spoke with Sunday PUNCH on situation of anonymity, affirmed that solely 18 political events would partake within the elections.
He stated, “Any social gathering that registers now can by no means be for the 2023 elections as a result of the timetable for the primaries is operating already; the primaries should finish on June 3, that’s lower than a month. So, I don’t see how a celebration that’s registered now will be capable to meet up with all of those necessities.
“Don’t forget that they also have to bring the register of their members. So, if they are registered now, when are they going to do all of these?”
Requested to substantiate if solely 18 political events would take part within the 2023 elections, he stated, “Absolutely, that’s what is going to happen, because the timetable can no longer accommodate them (new members).”
A Resident Electoral Commissioner, who additionally didn’t need his title talked about, stated the fee wouldn’t reject any legitimate utility for registration, however that its timetable might exclude any new social gathering from taking part in sure elections.
He stated, “I don’t think INEC is in the position to turn them down. The only thing is whether or not they will be on the ballot. Maybe by the time they finish the process, it will be too late. If party primaries are over before they register as political parties, automatically they are out. Party primaries are to end on June 3, so automatically any political party that is set up after the primaries have been concluded cannot take part in the elections.”
One other supply within the fee dismissed any insinuation that INEC delayed in registering the events to keep away from problems in its pointers and preparations for the 2023 elections.
Previous to the contemporary purposes, INEC had on February 6, 2020 deregistered 74 political events on account of their poor efficiency within the 2019 normal elections and the re-run elections that adopted.
Yakubu stated along with the extant provision for the registration of political events, the Fourth Alteration to Part 225(a) of the 1999 Structure, as amended, empowered the fee to deregister political events.
Ninety-one political events participated within the 2019 normal elections, whereas an extra one, the Boot Occasion, was registered based mostly on the order of a courtroom after the polls.
“Accordingly, 74 political parties are hereby deregistered. With this development, Nigeria now has 18 registered political parties,” Yakubu had stated.
He recalled that between 2011 and 2013, INEC deregistered a complete of 39 political events based mostly on the identical provision. The Supreme Court docket, on Might 7 upheld an earlier judgment of the Court docket of Attraction, which okayed the deregistration of the Nationwide Unity Occasion and 73 others. The attraction was filed by the NUP and others.
Within the lead judgment delivered by Justice Adamu Jauro, the Supreme Court docket stated the deregistration of the events was accomplished consistent with the legal guidelines and in compliance with the extant provisions of the 1999 Structure and the Electoral Act.
The judgment, delivered by a five-man panel led by Justice Mary Odili, stated INEC was empowered by Part 225 (a) of the structure to de-register any political social gathering that failed to fulfill the related necessities. The apex courtroom then dismissed the events’ attraction.
Nevertheless, a employees member of the fee, who didn’t need his title talked about, stated INEC had the duty of registering political events however that individuals must also think about becoming a member of present events.
“Studies show clearly that in any democracy where you have one to three dominant political parties, the moment the elite begin to form more political parties, you are only increasing the chances of those dominant parties, even though they may not be liked by the people,” he acknowledged.
Requested for the answer, he stated, “People should join the political parties and not go and form theirs. In the last Osun State governorship election in 2018, there were 25 political parties, whereas 18 participated. If you check, you will find out that the two major parties led the others despite the way people criticised them.”