Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that over 100 political parties may feature on the ballot paper in the forthcoming 2019 General Elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this in Abuja on Wednesday an Elections Stakeholders’ Summit, themed: “The Imperative of Building Public Confidence and Active Participation of Citizens ahead of 2019 General Elections”, organised by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), DFID and Christian Aid Nigeria under the auspices of the Voice to the People (V2P) project.
The event was coming on the heels of penultimate Monday’s TMG National Stakeholders Summit in Lagos, with the theme: “Engaging the 2019 Electoral Process for Improved Citizens’ Participation and Public Confidence.”
Nigeria currently has 68 registered political parties.
Yakubu who said that 138 political associations had applied for registration as political parties also said that the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has been deployed to the voter’s registration centres across the country leading to over 300 non-Nigerians apprehended for attempting to register.
According to him, as at May 24 this year, an estimated nine million Nigerians had been added to the nation’s voters’ register bringing the total number of Nigerians captured to vote at an estimated 80 million.
He said the commission was collaborating with security agencies and formulating administrative procedures to check the incident of vote-buying at polling centres.
The INEC boss said that there was nothing the commission could do to stop an association from applying to register as a political party saying that of the estimated 138 associations that had applied a number of them would be registered as political parties before the 2019 elections.
“As at the 8th of this month, we have received requests from 138 associations to register as political parties to join the already 68 registered political parties, so we may have more than the 68 registered political parties before the 2019 General Elections,” Yakubu said.
He also said samples of the ballot papers may be ready by next November and that by that time the commission would have known the number of political parties contesting in each constituency.
Giving reason why some intending voters experienced problems enrolling into the national voters register in the ongoing continuous voters registration exercise, Yakubu said the commission had to cut down on cost as it would have cost INEC N1.2bn daily to mount registration centres at every polling unit as demanded by some stakeholders.
“This would have amounted to N131bn for the whole exercise, an amount, that was not available to the commission,” he said.
He said that mounting the registration centres at ward level would also have cost INEC N20bn, thus the commission resort to using the local government level for registration and that there are presently 1,146 registration centres nationwide.
He also said the commission had gone far on a draft policy on Diaspora voting saying that it would become a reality once the Electoral Act and the Constitution are amended to give effect to it.
Speaking earlier the TMG chairman, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, expressed the determination of the TMG and other CSOs to collaborate with INEC and other election stakeholders towards improving the country’s electoral process.
She said the series is focusing on discussing important issues in the elections journey in Nigeria, which seeks to support increased voter education, sensitize organizations and communities to participate in elections, and most importantly support citizens to identify key accountability issues to enable issue based campaign.
“The broad goal of this summit is to strengthen stakeholders’ intervention in the 2019 elections, support processes that will promote active participation and improve on electoral integrity and public confidence role of critical stakeholders in elections.
“The meeting is also to engender broader momentum and provide spaces and platforms for grassroots discussions on issues of good governance and democracy,” she said.