The National Institute for Legislative & Democratic Studies (NILDS), a department of the National Assembly, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reduce the number of political parties in the country to a maximum of three.
Abubakar Sulaiman, Director General of NILDS, said this at the pre-convocation press conference of the 3rd convocation ceremony of UNIBEN/NILDS held in Abuja Friday.
He described the number of political parties in the country as “jankara political beneficiary” that are needed to be pruned because they “are adding no value to democracy.”
“For us to have a well deepened political culture, the earlier we take the course to two or three political parties, the better for us,” Mr Sulaiman told journalists.
He said most of the political parties lack national spread and strong structure; “but then they occupy space on the ballot paper, thereby, causing confusion.”
“When we talk about inconclusive election, overvoting, Nigerians in the rural areas cannot differentiate certain symbols because you have a ballot paper that is as lengthy as one kilometre.
“INEC should come up with another amendment to the Electoral Act. If care is not taken, in the next two or three years we will have up to 200 political parties,” he said.
Nigeria currently has 91 political parties, according to INEC. A total of 73 of them took part in the February presidential election.
Nigerians have expressed divergent views on whether or not the number of registered political parties should be limited.
A former military head of state, Abdulsalam Abubakar, earlier stated his opposition to any restriction.
“We should not peg their (the political parties) number,” he told Nigeria Now magazine, adding, “In certain countries, some parties are only interested in governing their localities. They don’t contest where they lack strength. A party may be interested in capturing only Minna Local Government and not the Niger State legislature (for instance).”
Mr Abubakar, who is Nigeria’s last military ruler, said, “The situation will curtail itself as many would fizzle out and others dissolve into mega-parties. During the last elections, some aligned with others and many will give way as we go along.”
What Obtains In Other Democracies
According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), India has a total of 2334 political parties, as of March 2019.
Of this figure, seven are national parties, 26 are state parties while 2301 are registered unrecognised parties which could be “newly registered parties or those which have not secured enough percentage of votes in assembly or general elections to become a state party or those which have never contested in elections since being registered.”
Also, between April and August this year, another 93 were registered by India’s election commission.
In the U.S., while two major parties dominate — the Democratic and Republican parties — there are other smaller parties that take part in grassroots politics in the country. On its finance database, the U.S. Federal Election Commission named up to 45 political parties. Also, each state of the country decides based on its laws which of the minor parties participates in the general elections.
In Brazil, 36 political parties were said to have participated in the South American country’s last presidential election.
Back in Africa, the electoral commission of South Africa puts the country’s number of political parties at 613. Of these, 314 are national and 299 provincial.