Contrary to popular perception that there are already too many political parties, with mounting fears that it might become unwieldy for the electoral body to manage, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) insists it has capacity to manage not minding the number of parties.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while responding to enquiries from The Guardian on the issue said INEC should not be held responsible for the multiplicity of political parties since the law allows the proliferation.
According to Yakubu: “We have 45 political parties today, but remember that we had 60 parties before the last general election in 2015. In many countries less well-endowed than we are, you hear about 100 or more political parties. And so, given our population, diversity and number of constituencies, the number of political parties we have at the moment and possibly more parties to be registered before the next general elections can be effectively managed by INEC… As you can see, the number of parties we have in relation to our diversity is not too much to handle.”
The university teacher added that a multi-party or plural democracy should not restrict the number of political parties stressing, “as the saying goes, the more the merrier. Ultimately, citizens are the beneficiaries because they will be offered greater opportunity for choice.
Founding member of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and human rights lawyer, Comrade Femi Aborisade, has equally thrown his weight behind the registration of more parties in the polity as long as they satisfy the conditions for registration.
“Yes, I am absolutely in support of continuous registration of more political parties as long as they meet the necessary requirements of law for registration. I will never support in any form, any attempt to discourage the association of any group of Nigerians to participate in the political process, carried out by any organisation, body or individuals, be it INEC, the Nigerian Police or whatever, as long as such people meet the requirement of law to associate, participate and contribute to the democratic process,” he said.
Constitutional lawyer, and member of the defunct Justice Uwais Electoral Panel, Festus Okoye, begs to differ, saying since most of the political parties have the same ideological platform and content with different degrees of emphasis on issues, “It is my considered view that Nigeria does not need more than five political parties. Presently, only about five political parties have any form of representation in the states’ and National Assembly and the same thing applies to the local councils across the federation, and at area councils in the Federal Capital Territory.
Former INEC national commissioner in charge of South West, Prof. Lai Olurode, says what should worry Nigerians more than the proliferation of political parties is how to ensure that parties reflect and retain the ideologies on which they were founded.