Senate has expressed its readiness to reduce the huge number of political parties participating in elections in the country from the current 91 to five through legislation.
Specifically, the upper legislative chamber of National Assembly expressed disaffection over the number of political parties fielding candidates in the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
Chairman of the Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano South) and former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP Enugu West), said the number of political parties that would be contesting elections was unwieldy and a contravention of the amended Electoral Act.
They spoke at a meeting with the leadership of INEC led by its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu in the National Assembly, Abuja.
Ekweremadu at the meeting, expressed consternation over the number of political parties which he insisted was a breach of the 2010 electoral act (as amended)
The former Deputy Senate President submitted that by virtue of the electoral act, political parties which failed to win a seat in the general elections should be deregistered.
This prompted the committee chairman to query the INEC chairman on why such “failed” political parties would be allowed to appear on the ballot papers in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
He said: “Those parties that didn’t perform shouldn’t be on the ballot.
“The existing electoral act as amended has precluded participation of parties that didn’t perform in the last elections. Why are you putting them in the ballot in the forthcoming elections?”
Senator Gaya revealed that his committee was determined to reduce the number of existing political parties to three or five.
“We need to amend the act to reduce the political parties to a maximum of five, this committee is really committed to reducing the number of political parties to save tax payers money”, he insisted .
While wishing INEC success in the conduct of the November 16 governorship elections, the former Kano state governor said his Committee would ensure that INEC continue to play by the rules to inspire public confidence in the electoral process.
“We wish you success in Kogi and Bayelsa. The very essence of this meeting is to identify the loopholes in the 2019 general elections and move towards correcting them through amendment of the Electoral Act.
“This is to ensure transparency in the electoral process for free, fair and credible elections. It will enhance the credibility of INEC and Nigeria in the eyes of the global community.
“We are determined to fashion out credible road map for credible elections. Of course, there are challenges but we must get right. ”
The INEC chairman, in his defence said the commission was in a dilemma to take decisive action to deregister political parties as a result of pending electoral litigations which could alter its judgement .
He said: “The Commission had systematically deregister under the electoral act. But the parties insisted that the electoral act is inferior to the Constitution.
“Again, at what point can we say election has been concluded? Is it after we have issued Certificate of Return or after the courts have concluded judgements on petitions arising from elections?”
Earlier giving an update on his Commission’s preparation for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, Professor Yakubu said all non sensitive materials have since been deployed and all other required arrangements would be made for credible, free and fair elections in the two states.
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