INEC Under Pressure to Register 80 More Parties

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• Civil societies bemoan delay in reform of Electoral Act
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said it might still register eighty more political associations whose applications are pending to join in the contest for the 2019 general election.

The commission said its hands  are tied on the issue of party registration because of constitutional provision, adding that until there is a new legislation to curtail it, more parties would continue to spring up.
The commission’s position came just as the members of the civil society coalition under the auspices of the Situation Room has expressed concern over the continued delay in the passage of the amendments to the Electoral Act as amended 2010.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was represented by INEC National Commissioner, Dr. Kunle Ogunmola, at the National Stakeholders Forum on Elections, said that the commission would continue to register new parties as long as they meet the constitutional requirement.

“We will continue to register parties as long as they comply with the provisions of the constitution. For now, we have registered 21 more parties, making a total of 67 now. We have about 80 more applications from various associations, wanting to get registered as political parties. Our hands are tied. There is no way we can regulate it for now. We will continue to register them until the time stipulated by the constitution for us to put a stop to it,” he said.

The INEC chairman added that the commission was working with all stakeholders including development partners to ensure it delivers a most credible election in 2019.
He said the commission had experimented with the electronic transmission of results during the last Anambra State governorship election with the hope that by 2019, the device would be deployed full scale.

According to the INEC boss, the commission had recently commenced constituency delimitation in some states in collaboration with the authorities of the National Population Commission (NPC).
“By the time the issue of independent candidate comes into the fore, there will be more problems for INEC. Because right now, we are thinking of how we will design our ballot paper to take care of all the registered political parties.”

Speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, represented by Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, said the victory of the opposition party in the 2015 would not have been possible without the electoral reform introduced by previous government.

He said the president was committed to ensuring reform of the electoral process, especially in actualising full autonomy for INEC.
The Inspector General of Police who was represented by Assistant Inspector General, Kabilla, said security agencies are going to ensure that the electoral process is not truncated through violence.

Commenting on the performance of police during the Anambra State governorship, Kabila said the security agents tackled several threats including detonating explosives that would have disrupted the exercise.

Earlier, while speaking to journalists, the Executive Director of Policy and Legislative Advocacy, Clement Nwankwo, said though the country’s electoral process has witnessed some improvement, a lot more reforms are needed to enhance the credibility of elections.
He said INEC can achieve in the area of  credible election if legislations are passed to empower it deploy new technologies.