Fred Itua, Abuja
Plan by the Senate to reduce the number of political parties to five through an amendment of the existing Electoral Act has elicited condemnations.
Pioneer chairman of the Young DemocraticParty and its 2019 governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Nya-Etok Ezekiel, said instead of de-registration of parties, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should put measures in place to ensure only serious political parties are displayed on the ballot.
Nigeria Community Movement Party (NCMP) on the other hand, warned that it would be counter-productive.
Ezekiel told journalists in Abuja that reduction of political parties was not a viable option.
“For legal considerations, and for the good of democracy, it might not be wise to deregister parties…I propose that 20 parties be screened to be on the ballot. INEC must insist on electronic registration of members. Every member seeking to contest must have been a financial member.
“The top 20 parties will be the parties that will be allowed to field candidates for the elections while others continue on membership drive so as to qualify in the next election cycle. If a party is unable to come among the top 20, putting them on the ballot is unwise…”
The NCMP described the proposal as a shameful approach to the nation’s democracy, adding that members of the ninth Senate were afraid of a possible change in the narrative in the 2023 general elections.
National Chairman of NCMP, Ademola Babatunde said: “It will be fraudulently manipulated and undemocratic move of the Senate to strategically destroy our collective existence and stampede freedom of association and ability of Nigerians to question the integrity of government as clearly guaranteed under Section 40 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“This is provoking, ambiguous, inimical, undemocratic and unpatriotic move of the Senate stands against the weight of any known law and the rule of law, which is the beam of any successful nation. The plan will be counter-productive.
“A reduction in the number of political parties is never a solution, but rather a shameful ambition and should not be nursed by an arm of government, which by its nature cannot function optimally without political parties.”