By Amaechi Oken
The recent deregistration by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of 74 political parties out of over 90 that participated in the February and March 2019 nationwide general elections on the ground that they did not secure a single seat, was one of the best bold approaches of system cleansing. The latest ruling by the Federal High Court that reversed the deregistration, probably was based on the weak constitutional provision. Prior to elections, the onus of every registered political party lies on the intensive struggle to win, in order to pragmatically infuse their manifestoes into government projects/programs. In strict guideline to progressively scale through appraisal regularly carried out. Unfortunately, some political parties, that did not make it, woefully lost out in the opportunity provided by last year’s nationwide general election. The space in government either at the state or federal establishments finally closed; previous promises, paraded at electioneering campaign became mere fantasy and hypothesis.
So fresh debate by many people in Nigeria which centered on political parties’ annulment, ought to come after INEC has seen concluded elections in the 774 council areas, otherwise known as the third tier of government. Recall that the last nationwide general election for emergence of chairmanship/councillorship positions was on the 8th December 1998, but that uniformity is no more obtainable. Any attempt to wait and accommodate the peculiar segmented durations (tenure variations) applicable to each of the 36 states and Abuja becomes a herculean task. A number of state governors adopted outlawed local government caretaker committees indiscriminately. The development makes inclusion of council area elections as a yardstick in exhaustive and cumbersome. It becomes clearer to find out if any of the parties that scored zero in securing a slot has presence in any LGA or ward in government. Further wait to next LGA election should not be entertained.
Again, INEC cannot run away from huge blame surrounding influx of many political parties that infested the system, lacking in good direction and distinct ideologies. INEC is good at inviting political associations to apply for registration. It superficially releases certificate of recognition empowering them to become a political party. But the action is very glaring that no thorough examination was done to determine the veracity of documents submitted. The addition of these new visionless political parties to the existing ones brings about reckless damage and confusion to the entire political field. The legal unit of INEC is quite unaware of party constitution they are duty bound to look at the content from time to time, with the objective of updating for acceptable requirement. Political party machineries go beyond election. The major work moves to the second stage where the party is conscientiously assessed by the people on the extent of transformation/propagation following earlier promises in the provision of infrastructure, public utilities by those successfully elected on the party platform.
The opportunity warranting registration of association as political party by INEC shouldn’t be a daily occurrence. A gap stretching for a period of ten (10) years or whatever duration, is necessary for good conduct. Party administration occupies wide scope that cannot be boxed/suspended for the purpose of actualizing nomination of preferred party candidates through backdoors. The aim will be defeated because after cutting corner in the process and unpopular candidates fielded eventually win elections in executive and legislative government seats at national, state, and probably local government areas dastardly performances will be realized. The easy step compounds the existing ones instead of offering a solution. Second kind of worm take excuse from the juggled poor appearances of the mushroom political parties, featured sponsored as candidates to compete in the race with the mega parties to satisfy all righteousness, since they are fully aware that they will not make it at the end. Sometimes bargain to withdraw and declare full support to serious minded parties.
Funding of political parties inadvertently escapes a place in Nigeria constitution. The paucity of fund throws the party to the mercy of the money bags/highest bidders. It suffocates. The consequence is that it turns majority into beggarly circumstance, coordination in disarray. No wonder our democracy for over twenty years uninterrupted existence is yet to find its bearing.
The jubilation of party executives, members arising from successful seat secured at executive and legislative arms of government hoping for shares suddenly turns to calamity immediately the government(s) officials have taken oaths of office. These people who won and are being looked up feign ignorance of processes scaled through from primaries to final stages, visited by bargains, pledges in various electioneering campaigns and negotiation, turn around to seize the entire party structures and collapse them into personal schedule. People’s suggestion slightly different from Oga’s thoughts are termed confrontational, brags those who expressed such opinions enemies targeted to destabilize government. Because of this divided rule, principled one leave space for praise singers, hangers on sycophants, to take up strategic party administration as functionaries, appointments in various government establishment and more worrisome to elective government position at the appropriate period.
Sometimes it is necessary to address boisterous behavior exhibited by political party floor functionaries who were duly elected as party executives at ward, local council areas, state and national levels in various congresses and conventions periodically by calling them to order. The option of stiffening their revenue source renders their work redundant and thereby throws the party constitutional provision impotent. The lucky ones who through party platform hold government key functions alarmingly turn tigers, easily swaps the credits due to collective performance by the party vis-à-vis, the objectives, programmes and manifestoes widely campaigned apparatus for success at the polls to their own personal initiatives.Follow us