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Socialist Democracy March 2004



The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently announced (and also echoed by President Obasanjo) that some political parties will be de-registered as a result of what it (INEC) termed as 30 parties being "unwieldy".

Performances of the newly registered parties in the last April 2003 general elections must have also being used as a yardstick to justify this resolution of the ruling class to prune political parties down to 2 or 3 for its selfish political calculations.

Apart from the fact that it was only in December 2002 when these new parties were registered, INEC put some stumbling blocks like prohibitive fees for candidates to contest elections on their parties' platforms. These political parties, led by NCP, wasted two months to contest this and other undemocratic bottlenecks initiated by INEC. Coming from this background and with very limited resources, they had to contest with six existing parties who have mustered financial muscles and structures.

Secondly, the last 2003 general election was a charade. It was massively rigged and marred by various irregularities by the ruling parties. This was even confirmed by both local and international elections monitors.

More so, the constitution has rightly stipulated what conditions to be met by groups of people to become political parties. This has been fought up to and won at the Supreme Court. It is not compulsory for a political party to have a national spread. Its influence could be limited to a region or even a state. Its electoral campaign may be limited to a singular issue. For instance, Green Party in most European countries is concerned with mono programme - the environment.

Again, the agreement of INEC, Obasanjo & co. that 30 political parties are too many cannot hold water. Israel with population of 5 million has 30 political parties, Indonesia with same population as Nigeria has 48 political parties. Political party is an association of like minds who share same philosophy and principle with the aim to sell their ideas to people and capture political power to practicalise these ideas. Attempt to de-register parties is a negation of democratic rights and against the provisions of 1999 constitution.

It is very clear that INEC and SIEC are not independent umpires with their role and activities before, during and after the general elections. They cannot be trusted to organise free and fair elections in the future. In Lagos State, for instance, while only 4.5 million people are on the voters' register, in the referendum conducted to determine desirability of new local government in the state, Lagos state SIEC declared 6.5 million people voting "yes", in a referendum conducted within 3 hours! At the general elections that were conducted for 7 hours, less than 2 million Lagosians voted at the governorship elections with total votes of all political parties. So, where did LASIEC get the 6.5 million votes?

Therefore, INEC and SIECs should be dissolved immediately and be reconstituted with all political parties’ representatives, professional bodies, labour, NANS, etc, duly represented to truly make it independent and effective to deliver its constitutional role and win the confidence of political parties and rank and file Nigerians.

The idea of de-registration of parties is a calculated attempt by Obasanjo and sections of the capitalist ruling class to prevent the emergence of a mass-based, working people political party that can successfully challenge their unpopular anti-poor, capitalist policies.



Socialist Democracy March 2004