FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, April 11, 2019
[email protected]
Pikesville, Maryland, USA
A REVISIT OF THE REGISTRATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN NIGERIA

t is no more news that Politics has become the number one business in Nigeria. It is a business where you do not need any paper qualifications or specialty to excel in, just your ability to talk and tell lies, your connections and networking ability are your basic investments to be ready to lord it on the undiscerning populace.

I was waiting for the successful conclusion and declaration of the Rivers State Elections results before continuing with this writeup, being a mere extension of my previous article titled 'Beyond the 2019 Elections in Nigeria.' Ever since the Campaign for the 2019 election began, I had seen the in-built complexity of the electioneering process. The registration of 91 political parties was the most unheard of, in the era of globalization especially in an illiterate society like Nigeria. Majority of voters in rural areas, who got overwhelmed by the endless listing of the political parties on the ballot papers, were at the mercy of the electoral process. They had to be helped to vote by by-standers or officials. This also was found to have contributed to voter apathy in subsequent elections in many parts of the country. It is only in Nigeria, where you have as many as 91 political parties in a given general election!

After so many days following the elections, one is amazed that concerns over the uncontrolled/unrestrained registration of political parties continued to be expressed on radio, television, pages of magazines and the Dailies (newspapers). One is bound to question the wisdom behind such registration in a civilized world of the present. Does any nation need to register more than five political parties to be assured of good governance? What kind of constitution or Human Right is so untamed and unmindful of peoples' convenience and ease of going about their duties? Registration of Nine or Ninety- one political parties is simply crazy! It is only in Nigeria you can have this untamed quest for political party registration.

At first, the unprecedented registration of 91 parties was taken as a big joke but as events unfolded, the reality of the political drama got forced on the populace to choke us all. I don't think all those who have been speaking and writing on this subject could have been crazy and idle enough to be making such loud noise. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should take a cue and bring sanity to the registration process. A simple addition of An Independent Candidacy may just do the trick for all those (Politicians) who cannot align with an allowable (registered) three or four political parties. Nigeria should demonstrate that she has gotten too civilized for this kind of mess. The volume of paperwork imposed on INEC is incalculable if not unimaginable with such unwieldy registration.

There are calls from different quarters for the de-registration of political parties. I read the piece by a veteran journalist Jide Ojo and I have heard from the legal luminary Femi Falana (SAN), calling for some sanity in the registration of political parties. This article is just adding my voice to these calls for the benefit of the illiterate voters and INEC. Nigeria certainly can do better. The process of de-registration cannot be delayed or allowed to linger on for a long time, if the struggle for leadership/governance in 2023 is to commence in earnest.

Whoever has the responsibility of de-registration (INEC or NASS) should set the machinery in motion immediately to allow for the successful collapse and mergers of the existing parties or groups of people with identical political interests. This is perhaps the best time to mandate political parties to craft enduring VALUES which will make it difficult for the trend in political prostitutions to continue. There is need for definite political ideologies for different parties so that future politicians can decide which ideologies and values they want to identify with. There should be more stringent guidelines for crossing from one party to another. The current APC in the morning, PDP at noon time, and SDP by the night-type of politics in Nigeria must stop, (even if the corruption cankerworm continues to be incurable)! The current escape route for corruption has to be halted. It is only in Nigeria where this is possible.

It should no longer matter to us in Nigeria why many political parties were registered. Some were registered to play the spoiler role while many were registered to scatter votes. Many were registered for the personal aggrandizement and ego of the registrants. Whatever the rationale was, it has hurt rather than helped the nation, as we have all seen and realised. An urgent change is desirable as we remain a nation undergoing a constant change. Nigeria needs very stringent measures and conditions for Political parties to be registerable and until this is done, we will not be classified as a serious nation ready to make progress. The deregistration of political parties should be part of Nigeria's agenda to take us to the Next Level in the electioneering process. Long live Nigeria.

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