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INEC slams briefcase political parties



By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos

The Independent National Electoral Commission, on Friday, kicked against the registration of weak political parties in the country.

The INEC Acting Director, Department of Election and Party Monitoring, Hajiya Hauwa Habib, made the call while speaking during a programme themed ‘Validation Session: Needs assessment of political parties in Nigeria’.

The programme organised by The Kukah Centre and funded by the European Union was part of component III of the European Union’s Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria.

Habib said that to register a political party, the proponents must have a membership of 24 people from 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Habib said, “We see them as ‘briefcase political parties. Sometimes the Chairman and the Secretary hijack the political party because they registered the political party from inception and all the members were not necessarily financial members.

“The chairman, secretary, and treasurer continue to dominate everything about the political party. In their constitutions, they assign duties and schedules to every executive member. The Financial Secretary, Welfare Secretary, and Publicity Secretary are not allowed to perform their duties once the party is registered.

“In the long run when it is a year or two towards election, you find the secretary and the chairman struggling on who owns the party. Thereabout, you find fictionalisation, they give us problems during elections, rush to the courts, and the courts are not helping matters.

“There is a political party in 2018 that got registered with only four members. While Section 223 of the constitution tells you that it is 24 members minimum in 24 states and FCT. Now, these people are all from the South-West, there are four of them. They went to court and the court insisted that they should be on the ballot. Of course, they have been deregistered because they are not a serious political party.

“They think that membership of a political party in Nigeria is a joke. It is through the political parties that governance and government are given to citizens. How do you think a political party with 24 people running the party can perform without a presence at the local level during elections? When asked whether INEC is overstretched and should be unbundled, she said certain duties, such as investigation should be removed from the commission.

“The moment we conduct elections and the certificate of return is issued, we have done our job,” Habib noted.