* 23 New Political Parties Receive Licenses
16th August, 2018
By Nathaniel Gana
A strong indication that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will no longer tolerate vote buying during elections emerged on 16th August, during the presentation of licenses to 23 new political parties at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu seized the moment to announce three measures to be immediately adopted to curb the phenomenon.
Speaking before an impressive audience of leaders of the new political parties and their associates, Prof. Yakubu declared: “The Commission is deeply worried about the way our elections are becoming increasingly monetized. Vote buying is a cancer to our elections and we must work together collectively to stamp it out”.
He asserted that starting with the Osun state governorship election slated for 22nd September 2018, “we will change the way our Polling Units are administered, such that there will be no room for voters to expose their marked ballot papers between the voting cubicles and the ballot boxes”.
On the second measure, the INEC Chairman said the Commission would continue to review its strategies in consultation with security agencies “for a more robust response for the arrest and prosecution of vote buyers.”
On the third measure, he said: “We will also engage with all well-meaning groups for effective voter education and sensitization.”
He noted that the 23 political parties emerged out of 144 applications received by the Commission from associations seeking registration as political parties.
He said: “from today, you are recognized as political parties under the law and you have equal status with any political party in Nigeria. This means that you can sponsor candidates for elections, including the 2019 general elections”.
He continued: “The formal commencement of activities for the 2019 general elections begins on Friday 17th August 2018, with the publication of Notice of Poll. Already, the Commission has concluded all arrangements for doing so in all our offices nationwide as required by law. This will be followed by the conduct of party primaries, beginning from Saturday 18th August 2018 to Sunday 7th October 2018.
“As political parties, you have an obligation to respect your constitutions, your members, abide by INECs guidelines and regulations, obey the Electoral Act and above all, submit to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The INEC Chairman also implored them to cooperate with the umbrella body of Political Parties in Nigeria, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), to foster the existing cordial relationship between INEC and political parties.
He said: “from today you are also members of the IPAC and you will be invited to the regular inter-consultative meetings between INEC and all political parties. You will also participate all activities of the Commission involving political parties in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, the Chairman of IPAC, Mallam Muhammed Lawal Nalado, while welcoming the new members, commended INEC for ensuring due diligence in registering more political parties.
He said the addition of 23 more political parties to the existing 68 would open the political space to give room for more participation. He called on the newly registered parties to work with IPAC and support INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections and deepen democracy.