*As senate restricts threshold to three
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to deregister more than eighty six political parties as Senate said yesterday that it will commence the amendment of 2010 Electoral Act.
The red chamber said it will among other amendments, restrict to three or five as the new threshold of political parties that will contest the 2023 general elections and subsequent elections in the country.
Speaking yesterday during an engagement between the senate and INEC delegation led by its chairman, Mahmud Yakubu, which is the first official engagement since the inception of the 9th session, chairman of senate committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, said it is a waste of resources and tax payers money for the commission to keep including long list of parties on the ballot paper.
The Senate committee chairman also said the Senate will create Electoral Offences Commission while amending the 2010 Electoral Act, adding that the burden of prosecuting the electoral offenders has become enormous for the commission to bear due to lack of manpower.
“We are having challenges with our electoral system, one of such challenges is that we are having too many political parties, we have about ninety one of them and we all know that ninety one is too many. It costs tax payers a lot of money to print the long ballot papers which should have been a small card.
“So therefore, in this committee, we shall do justice to the number of political parties. We need to amend the Act so that we give more stringent measures and guidelines for political parties to be registered. In doing that, we can reduce the number of political parties to three or maximum of five, I think that will be a better way to go, so whatever we need to do to amend the Act, we must do that. We have political parties that do not have even a councilor yet they are registered”, he said.
Specifically, the Chairman of the Committee, backed by the former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West), said the number of political parties that would be contesting Kogi and Bayelsa elections are too many necessitating the amendment of the Electoral Act.
While wishing INEC success in the conduct of the November 16 governorship elections, the former Kano state governor said his Committee would ensure that INEC continue to play by the rules to inspire public confidence in the electoral process.
“We wish you success in Kogi and Bayelsa. The very essence of this meeting is to identify the loopholes in the 2019 general elections and move towards correcting them through amendment of the electoral act.
“This is to ensure transparency in the electoral process for free, fair and credible elections. It will enhance the credibility of INEC and Nigeria in the eyes of the global community.
“We are determined to fashion out credible road map for credible elections. Of course, there are challenges but we must get right. “
The INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu in his response said his Commission was in a dilemma to take decisive action to deregister political parties based on the last Constitutional amendments as a result of pending electoral litigations which could alter its judgment.