WRITTEN BY EGBUNA AMUTA
Recently, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, registered another twenty-one political parties, bringing the total number to sixty-eight.
Without mincing words, this number is unwieldy and antithetical to healthy democratic ideals and process.
If the plain truth must be told, only about three registered parties are serious minded and actually on the ground in the country. Political realities since the advent of Nigeria's Fourth Republic in 1999 have shown that majority of the registered parties in Nigeria at the moment are obviously inconsequential.
They are political parties merely in name than in substance. If they must exist at all, they would have been serving better purpose as Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations or at best political pressure groups, instead of parading themselves as political parties asking for the support of eligible voters.
Indeed, many of the so-called political parties are truly not interested in convincing the electorate to vote for them during elections. They merely crave for cheap publicity and relevance, and this explains why they do not win elections, even at the Ward level of electoral contests as demonstrated in previous elections in the country.
For instance, in the recent governorship election in Anambra state, thirty-seven political parties sponsored candidates, many of whom were ridiculously unable to garner up to one hundred votes for their standard bearers. It would therefore seem that many of these political parties which are without clout are being used by their pretender managers as instruments for other mundane purposes
That notwithstanding, the length and unhandy nature of the ballot papers in the last governorship election in Anambra was obviously a source of confusion to many of the voters, especially illiterate persons, some of who regrettably got their ballots invalidated due to their innocent acts of omission and commission.
One can therefore imagine the magnitude of the confusion most electorate would grapple with when they would be given ballot papers containing the symbols of a whopping sixty-eight political parties to thumb print for just one party of their individual choices. The confusion would be gargantuan in nature.
Surely, we do not need so many political parties in the country. Multi-party democracy does not mean registration of innumerable number of political parties. About five political parties as was the case in the First and Second Republics should be enough in this Fourth Republic. Serious minded politicians can ideologically always find accommodation in any of them. Majority of the members should be at liberty to determine and adjust the ideological bents and orientations of their political parties.
The onus is therefore on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to sanitize the country's political space by registering a manageable number of political parties. Parties which would fail to win seats or certain percentage of the total votes cast in the 2019 general elections in the country should be deregistered.