The Nigeria Election Working Group (NEWG) has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to engage stakeholders and come up with reasonable conditions for registered political parties to access ballot in future elections.
The Convener of NEWG, Prof. Adele Jinadu, gave the advice during a news conference after the group’s second technical meeting in Abuja.
NEWG is a forum for multi-expertise conversations, research, strategic interventions and moral suasion to promote electoral reforms and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.
INEC recently disclosed that there were 103 pending applications by various political associations demanding to be registered in addition to the 46 ones in the country.
Jinadu said that one of the key issues identified and reviewed by the group at the technical meeting was the challenges posed by rising numbers of political parties in Nigeria.
He said that while NEWG believed that there were advantages associated with increasing numbers of political parties in the country, there was need to quickly find solutions to the challenges associated with it.
Jinadu said it was the observation of the group that increased number of political parties could deepen political engagement by providing basis for the emergence of parties that more closely mirrored the peoples’ beliefs or concerns.
He noted however, that registration of many parties could lead to a number unwieldy for the election management body to manage, confuse voters, and reduce the simplicity of the ballot paper.
“In the light of the above, there is need for a study of the implications of party proliferation for the electoral process in Nigeria, drawing from experiences from other climes.
“INEC should begin engagement with various stakeholders, especially the political parties, to arrive at reasonable conditions for ballot access in Nigeria, since the registration of a party may not qualify it to be on the ballot,’’ he said.
Jinadu also advised government and security agencies to create the enabling environment for INEC to conduct the Anambra State governorship election as scheduled.
He said that the advice was imperative as the “No Election Campaign” by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) could serve as reason for the militarisation of the Nov. 28 governorship election in the state.
Jinadu said such campaign, if not properly addressed, could discourage potential election officials and the electorate from participating in the election.
He added that INEC must make adequate preparations for the Anambra election and assure the electorate of its readiness for the exercise by constantly informing the public of its activities.
“Potential election officials and the electorate should not be deterred from participating in the electoral process by the perceived insecurity around the election.
“Citizens, particularly in Anambra, should show keen interest in the governorship elections, by reporting electoral malpractice and breach of peace to appropriate authorities.’’
Jinadu commended INEC’s preparations for the poll, especially the compilation of the Voters’ Register, finalisation and implementation of its election project plan.
He added that INEC also deserved commendation for the over 170 off-cycle, rerun and bye elections it had so far conducted since the 2015 general elections. (NAN)