By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the number of political associations seeking registration as political parties ahead of the 2019 general elections was currently 86.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this known during the commission’s quarterly meeting with leaders of political parties at INEC headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Yakubu described political parties as important vehicles in the management of the country’s democracy.
“The number of applications for registration of new associations as political parties now stands at 86,” he said.
He congratulated the 10 political parties recently re-registered after being deregistered following their performances during the 2015 general elections.
The political parties, according to him, are Better Nigeria Peoples Parties (BNPP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Peoples Progressives Party (PPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), National Action Council (NAC) and National Democratic Liberty Party (NDLP).
Others are Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN), National Conscience Party (NCP), Nigeria Element Progressives Party (NEPP) and the National Unity Party (NUP).
“The names of these political parties have already been uploaded on our website.
“But, I will like to appeal to those of them, out of the ten that are yet to open their offices, to do so and immediately notify the commission,” Yakubu said.
He also congratulated the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) on the successful conduct of its election, which he said was useful for the development of the country’s electoral system.
“I wish to assure you that INEC will continue to partner IPAC.”
The chairman said that agenda of the quarterly meeting included INEC’s proposed strategic plan for 2017-2021, court judgement on the roles of political parties, violence in the conduct of parties’ primaries and elections generally.
He also said that internal democracy of political parties, parties’ campaign finances, nationwide continuous voter registration, outstanding Anambra Central senatorial re-run election and presentation on INEC innovations.
In his remarks, IPAC Chairman, Mohammed Nalado, urged INEC to seek alternatives to deregistration of political parties.
He also expressed displeasure in INEC for not properly consulting political parties before fixing dates for 2019 general elections.
Nalado admitted that INEC chairman notified IPAC of the decision, but said that the council did not know whether the information was official or not until it was in the newspapers.
“We had meeting with INEC chairman, unfortunately we did not understand him whether he was telling us officially or he was just giving us information on how our elections should be done.
“I hope this issue will be discussed thoroughly here,” Nalado said.
He affirmed IPAC’s commitment to work with INEC in deepening the country’s democracy.
Nalado also urged the commission’s new National Commissioners to make their inputs to the development of the electoral system.
The National Chairman of United Democratic Party (UDP), Mr Godson Okoye, in an interview with newsmen, said it was disrespect for INEC to fixed date for elections without consulting political parties.
“We are surprised that dates were fixed for elections that will take place in two years time.
“I think if that is the official position of INEC, the position of UDP is that it marks some disrespect for political parties from INEC,’’ he said.