Pruning Political Parties In Nigeria
IF there is any lesson to be learnt from the recently concluded general elections in the country, it is the fact that Nigeria does not need 91 political parties. Left for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) many of the other parties were on the ballot just to make up the number. In several instances , many of these parties had no candidates for elections while their presidential candidates withdrew few days to the election to adopt another presidential candidate. Those who did not withdraw ended up scoring ridiculous number of votes. At the end, the question that arose was why billions of public funds were wasted just to accommodate those who merely exploited the weakness of the law to ‘entertain’ themselves.
DEFENDING the election budget before the National Assembly in July last year, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the cost of conducting the general elections in the country had risen considerably because 91 political parties would be on the ballot, a figure he added could rise as the commission still had 140 pending applications for party registration.
FROM the inception of this political dispensation in 1999, Nigeria had just three major parties: Alliance for Democracy, AD, People’s Democratic Party, PDP and All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP. The small number of political parties then made it easy for the electorates to vote without being confused as we witnessed in the present political dispensation.
POLITICIANS’ insatiable appetite for political association and ceaseless agitation for political party registration was bolstered by the Supreme Court judgment in a case filed by the late legal icon and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN to the effect that “INEC had no power to make guidelines on how an association can become a political party in so far as the Constitution has covered the field in section 222”, adding that “to restrict the formation of political parties weakens the democratic culture”.
THE judgment of the Apex Court has therefore fueled the implosion of mushroom political parties in Nigeria and has become veritable tolls in the hands of political moneybags and affluent to further their selfish interest, rather than fulfilling the traditional roles of political parties in a democratic setting.
NO doubt, most of the political parties are bereft of ideas, ideology and the very vital ingredients of political parties with regards to philosophy, organisation, structure, motive, spread and capacity to fulfill the role of political parties in Nigeria.
MAJORITY of the present parties don’t have national spread or political structure that can win a single seat, most practically have no manifestoes and even where they exist, ends up being a duplication and repetition of another party.
THIS no doubt should be a disturbing development in Nigeria’s political history. because these political vampires are merely exploiting section 222 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) to register parties.
THE multiplicities of political parties in Nigeria remain unacceptable. It shows a lack of creativity and sincerity of purpose on the part of the founders of these political parties.
WE decry the unwieldy numbers of political parties in Nigeria. They constitute a drain on resources and a nuisance to the political process.
FUSING together will make the parties strong and guarantees national spread without the risk of being tagged with religious or ethnic colouration.
THIS will also stop the ignoble political party prostitution during election, like we witnessed in the last election where those who could not get party ticket easily defected and became another party’s flag bearer.
OUR position is that, having 91 political parties on ballot papers is confusing to the electorate, sizeable members who are illiterate in the country. Their inability in the last election to identify the party of their choice contributed immensely to the void votes recorded in the last election.
IN addition to this, multiple party like we have in Nigeria do not ensure good representation as the electorate find it difficult to know the candidates, thereby promoting charlatans to be in government.
Again, it makes voting difficult, confusing as the ballot papers are long, parties symbols identical and time consuming.
IT no doubt, makes election expensive as all the parties must be catered for by INEC. It increases the time for preparation as all the political parties would like to be captured, failure which can lead to litigation or disruption of the election.
The greatest disadvantage of multi party system in the country is that it divides the country along religious and ethnic lines.
IT is therefore high time for us to go back to the drawing board. We recommend that we take a cue from the United States of America, USA, where Nigeria copied its present democracy . The USA has two dominant parties, the Democrat and Republican, though there are other smaller parties, they operate in their area of strength.
THE unblemished historical fact is that the party system that had produced the best, most peaceful,fair,credible and acceptable election in Nigeria was pigeonholed into two parties – the Social Democratic Party,SDP, and the National Republican Congress, NRC respectively. This lend credence that two major political parties and three other not strong parties are suitable so for Nigeria.
FOR one thing, the adoption of two major party systems and three other lesser parties will curb ethnicity that is pronounced today in our politics, and it will make the politicians to either belong to party A or B with two different ideologies.
IN addition to this, it has the capacity of fencing political parties with no vision out of the scene. It strengthens opposition while putting the ruling party on its toes always, thereby guaranteeing optimal performance responsibility on the part of the government.