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IPAC faults Senate over call for reduction in parties

…Says such is undemocratic

OBIORA IFOH, Abuja

The Inter Party Advisory Committee, IPAC, which is the umbrella body for registered political parties in the country, has sharply disagreed with the Senate over its proposal for the reduction in the number of parties in Nigeria.

The number of registered political parties in the country presently stands at ninety-one, with many more applications for registration from political association pending before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The Senate had, few days ago, while playing host to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu during a budget defence at the National Assembly, harped on the need for reduction in the number of registered political parties in Nigeria.

Some of the Senators had specifically suggested that INEC should limit the number of parties in the country to not note than five.

However, the IPAC Chairman, Chief Peter Ameh, while speaking at the quarterly consultative meeting between INEC and the parties yesterday in Abuja, described the suggestion by the Senate as undemocratic and unacceptable.

Ameh cautioned that the Senate must not do anything anything to tamper with the independence of INEC, under whatever guise.

In the words of the IPAC Chairman, “It(the suggestion by the Senate) is

undemocratic and unacceptable. It is infringing on the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Their independence should not be tampered with by form of disguise.

“The fact is that if they (Senators) start to dish out authority, to say what INEC should do, that means they can also come one day and say INEC should do that on an election day.

“The fact is that political parties are supposed to grow organically and grow on their own. Parties don’t get funding, so what is the problem of parties with the Senate?

“Democracy itself is not cheap or easy anywhere because as soon as you allow people’s rights to participate, as stated in Section 40 of the Constitution, it will continue to enrich process.

“If you have this kind of hall and two parties come to sit down, what will they be discussing about Nigeria? It will restrict the discussion to a microscopic level.

“It is important that we expand processes that will put more voices, that will allow inclusion, it is very key.

“For me, I don’t see anything wrong with participating in the democratic space, that was the interest of the framers of our Constitution from Day One; that you don’t leave it an oligarchy structure, a system where somebody becomes a lord, every other person has to disappear.

“It shouldn’t be like that. Let the small, the big and the mighty go to the center and try to look for a way to be able to participate.

“In a democracy, it’s not just winning election that is the key, it is participation that is key and that participation gives you a lot of room.

“I mentioned the John Hopkin’s Report about the increase in women’s participation in 2019. It wasn’t done because of the two major parties, it was done because other parties came into the fray and gave women opportunities to go and apply their electoral values”, he said.

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