REDUCING THE NUMBER OF NIGERIA’S POLITICAL PARTIES
With the formation of the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), the first ever political party in Nigeria in the year 1923, resulting from the introduction of the first elective principle In 1922, by Sir Hugh Clifford, the then Governor of Nigeria, political parties in the country has increased astronomically to its current number of 63. From the first Republic to the current Republic, political parties had been the only vehicle that drives candidates to power in accordance with section 221 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The section reads: “No association, other than a political party, shall canvass for votes for any candidate at any election or contribute to the funds of any political party or to the election expenses of any candidate at an election”.
However, the main driving force behind the foremost political parties in the country was emancipation! This was evidenced in the mottoes and objectives of the pre-independence political parties. For example, the mottoes of the defunct Action Group (AG), and Northern People's Congress (NPC), were “Freedom for all and life more abundant” for (AG) and “One North, one people, irrespective of religion, rank, or tribe” for (NPC). All their objectives were in-tandem with The National Council of Nigeria and The Cameroun Citizen which later became National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). Their objectives were promoting national unity and spreading political education so as to realize self government.
After independence, the aims of the subsequent political parties were maintaining and protecting the unity and sovereignty of Nigeria as one indivisible and indissoluble nation among others. The political parties that were formed after the ban on political activities was lifted on September 21, 1978, were National Party of Nigeria (NPN), The Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Nigeria Advance Party (NAP).
Before the final return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, the nation was on the right track to true democracy. Prior to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election which was adjudged the freest and fairest election ever conducted in Nigeria, there were only two political parties in existence, and like what is obtained in America where it is either the Republicans or the Democrats, the parties in the third republic were; Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). Hence, comparing the 1993 general elections with just two parties to the 2003 and 2007 multi-party elections, even a crawling child will spot the difference! After the healthy competition among the three political parties--- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All People Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, the performance of some of these political parties in subsequent elections were not encouraging. Sometimes, it looks as if some of
these parties were more interested in the handout there receive from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), than compete ting for power with other vibrant parties.
Furthermore, no political party can win election without first of all, building or erecting national structures, because the constitution forbids regional association inform of political party. Section 222(e) of the constitution as amended reads: “No association by whatever name called shall function as a political party unless; the name of the association, its symbol or logo does not contain any ethnic or religious connotation or give the appearance that the activities of the association are confined to a part only of the geographical area of Nigeria”. There are some political parties that don't even have offices in some States, let alone the 774 Local Government Councils in Nigeria. The funny thing about the existence of some of these political parties is that, after election, there will be the first to go court on grounds that their party logo did not appear on INEC ballot papers.
The 2011 Presidential election exposed the weaknesses of some these parties. Imagine, in a nation where there are 63 political parties, only 20 participated in the presidential election. What happened to the remaining 43 parties? Out of the 20 political parties that contested the presidential election, only 4 got meaningful votes. The four are; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with about 58.9 percent votes, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), with about 31.9 percent votes, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), with about 5.4 percent votes and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), with about 2.4 percent votes. The remaining 16 parties got between 0.2 percent and 0.02 percent.
Reducing the number of our political parties will help the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in monitoring and providing adequate logistics for subsequent polls in the country. It will bring down the expenses often uncured by INEC during and after elections. The goodwill that, the 2011 general elections brought to us as a nation will be improved on in 2015 and future elections thereby, giving Nigeria, the passport to stand side-by-side with other great democracies of the world.
Iam Edwin Ekene, National President of Young Nigerians for Change.
No. 29 Ben Mbamalu Crescent, Achara Layout, Enugu State.
07065862479 or 08076134054