Some political parties, on Thursday, reacted to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) decision to deregister them due to their failure to win at least one political seat in Nigeria’s last general elections.
Earlier on Thursday, the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, declared the ruling APC; the main opposition, PDP; Action Alliance Congress (AAC), and 15 others as duly registered and recognised by the electoral body.
He also announced Alliance For Democracy (AD), Fresh Democratic Party (ADP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), All Blending Party (ABP), and 70 other parties as deregistered.
Mr Yakubu said the 74 political parties did not meet “the requirements of the Fourth Alteration to the Constitutional Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)”.
Many Nigerians had condemned the high number of political parties in Nigeria and their inability to make significant impact in many polls. Proponents of the multiparty structure have, however, defended the high number of parties arguing that this strengthens the electoral process.
PREMIUM TIMES reached out to at least 13 of the deregistered parties to get their reactions, but only four reacted.
Some said they were not aware of the decision; others were not ready to comment on the matter.
The national chairman of the All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Okey Chikwendum, described the INEC decision as ‘unconstitutional’ and “an evidence of misplaced priority”.
“This is very disheartening and it is one of the issues we have in Nigeria today. Are we looking for means to improve our democracy and nurture it properly to encourage more people to participate. Why are we reducing the space?
“INEC has more ‘bothering’ issues that it should be worrying about than going through a process that has not been consumated. I’m really disappointed with this development,” he said.
He added that AGAP and 32 others have taken the INEC to court “since the rumour of such was conceived”.
“There have been rumours of it and we went to court since last year, and in the last two weeks the judge said the judgement will be in the next ten days which is on the 17th of February and they (INEC) were served this morning only for them to call a press conference this afternoon,” he added.
PREMIUM TIMES is yet to verify his claims.
Also Chizoba Onu, the vice-chairman, South-east of Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), said she is not surprised at the electoral body’s decision as “the way democracy is practised in Nigeria is not the way it is practised all over the world.”
She said the court had earlier prevented INEC from deregistering political parties “but the electoral still went ahead to fulfil its theoretical notion”.
She insisted that FDP met all requirements “except the claim of not winning any political seat in the last general elections which should (not) be an actual yardstick.”
“Before you deregister a political party, have you even ask yourself if we have a fair and credible election? Was it fair enough for you to deregister a party on that ground?” She said.
The National Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Fasogbon Akinboye, expressed shock over the INEC decision.
He said the INEC does not have a genuine reason to arrive at such a decision.
“We are not moneybags, we don’t buy votes,” Mr Akinboye said, vowing that the party would go to court.
Also voicing the same resolution, the All Blending Party (ABP) National Secretary, George Moses, said his party “will surely fight this decision”.
We are the best alternative to APC, PDP
Meanwhile, shortly after the INEC announcement, the Action Democratic Party (ADP), one of the 18 recognised political parties by the electoral body, said it remained the only credible alternative political party to the two existing dominant parties in Nigeria.
It called on the members of the newly deregistered parties “to join in its quest to oust the two dominant parties comes 2023”.
“The party charged all leaders and members of the need to double their efforts in attracting more members and prominent Nigerians, and ensure that the party is not just there to provide alternative but to take charge of leadership at the center come 2023, because it has what it takes to produce the next President and governors in all the States,” the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Adelaja Adeoye, said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday.