The Senate Committee with oversight functions on the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has expressed disaffection over the number of political parties fielding candidates in the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
Chairman Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya and former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said the number of political parties that would be contesting elections was unwieldy and a contravention of the amended electoral act.
Nigerian Tribune findings revealed that in Kogi, 23 political parties will be fielding candidates out of the 49 that initially filed nominations while 45 political parties will be fielding candidates for the same exercise in Bayelsa state.
But at a meeting with the leadership of INEC on Wednesday led by its chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Senator Ekweremadu 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.
Chairman of the Committee and senator representing Kano South, Senator Gaya queried the INEC chairman why such “failed” political parties would be allowed to appear on the ballot in Kogi and Bayelsa.
He said:” Those parties that didn’t perform shouldn’t be on the ballot. The existing electoral act as amended has precluded the participation of parties that didn’t perform in the last elections. Why are you putting them in the ballot in the forthcoming elections. ?”
He 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 taxpayers money. ”
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 continues 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 it right. ”
The INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu in his defence said his 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 deregistered under the electoral act. But the parties insisted that the electoral act is inferior to the Constitution.
“Again, at what point can we say the 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 preparation for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Professor Yakubu said all non-sensitive materials have since been deployed.
” There are 14 activities towards the Kogi and Bayelsa, we have done 10.
We are fully prepared. The terrain is difficult but we are making an arrangement with National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW). All non-sensitive materials have been deployed.
We have made arrangement for the configuration of the Smart Card Readers, we are making arrangement for the manual register, those that are going to work at polling booths are mainly drawn from National Youth Service Corps and we are training them.
“For security, both Kogi and Bayelsa are volatile, going by their primaries, but we have done inter agencies meetings with security agencies who have also done their own risk assessment.
Given the security situation in the two states, we are engaging the stakeholders, long before the elections ”
The INEC chairman further disclosed that he will be meeting stakeholders in Kogi election on Thursday( today) in Lokoja while another meeting will hold on Friday in Yenogoa ahead of the Bayelsa election