Abuja — The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said about 18 of the registered 68 political parties in Nigeria are operating with invalid national executive committees whose tenures had expired or were not reflective of the federal character as required by the constitution.
The commission, which gave the offending parties 90 days to rectify the anomaly, also said 17 out of them had no functional offices in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as required by the law,
Sections 222(a-f) and 223 (1&2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) requires among others that registered political parties must always maintain a functional national headquarters address in the FCT. In addition, members of the national executive committees of the parties must not only reflect federal character but also have tenures that are renewed at intervals not exceeding four years.
Although INEC failed to name the affected political parties that have violated the electoral law, it said it has formally advised the parties on their respective areas of breach.
Speaking in Abuja during formal presentation of certificates of registration to 21 associations that have fulfilled the requirements for registratlion as political parties yesterday, the National Commissioner/Chairman of Election and Party Monitoring Committee, Prof. Antonia T. Simbine, said the offending parties have been given a 90-day period from November 2017 within which they are expected to revert to full compliance status.
At yesterday's press conference, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said apart from the 21 newly registered political parties that were presented with certificates, the commission was compelled by a High Court order to register the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN).
"We have already issued the certificate of registration to the SPN. The number of new political parties has risen to 22 in addition to the 46 parties already in existence. This means that the total number of political parties in Nigeria today stands at 68," he said"
According to Yakubu, since the registration of the 21 new political parties, the commission has received more applications from associations seeking registration as political parties.
He explained that at the moment, 90 applications are under consideration by the commission, adding that out of this number, 61 associations have failed the initial assessment of their proposed names, logos or acronyms and have been notified while 25 associations that passed initial assessment, and have been advised to proceed to the next stage of the registration process.
He further said four associations are undergoing preliminary assessments of the suitability of their proposed names, logos and acronyms.
The INEC advised political parties to ensure free and transparent processes devoid of rancour in their operations and to also ensure equal opportunity for all members of parties irrespective of gender, age or physical disabilities.
He also enjoined the parties to ensure their activities conform to relevant provisions of its constitutions with regard to the practice of internal party democracy.
While pointing to the challenges before the INEC, Yakubu said if each of the 68 political parties in Nigeria today fields candidates for all the 1,558 constituencies to be contested in the 2019 general election, the commission will have to grapple with 105,944 candidates.
He urged political parties to adhere strictly to the 2019 election timelines, adding that the commission would not hesitate to reject the submission by any party that violates the timelines.