The United Nations (UN) has expressed worry over the number of registered political parties in Africa.
Special Representative of UN Secretary General in West African and Sahel region, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who led a delegation on a visit to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said the number of parties could cause distraction in the quality of the electoral process, given the high rate of illiteracy in the continent.
“The number of political parties in certain elections in our West Africa Sahara sub-region has posed a challenge recently,” he stated.
Chambas commended the peaceful conduct of the 2019 elections, noting that a stable democracy in Nigeria is good for West Africa and for Africa in general.
He welcomed the proposed national dialogue on the review of the 2019 general election by INEC.
“We come here seeking to be part of that structured conversation moving forward. We will be particularly interested in a number of issues which the chairman of INEC has already identified.
“Issues such as of political parties – number, mode of registration, internal democracy, accreditation of party agents, etc.
“Not only here in Nigeria, we need to look into the number of political parties, their mode of registration etc.
“Recently in Senegal this same challenge was faced and they are now trying to address it.
“Next door in Benin, they were confronted with 249 of registered political parties. They are also finding how to handle this.
“In the last election in this country, many of you will recall that there were 73 presidential candidates and we have more political parties. Many people have even referred to the ballot paper as table cloth on the account of its length and breath.
“That is also a challenge in countries of sub-region in countries where the majority of mothers, fathers and relations are illiterates and we are presenting them with such long list of candidates and sometimes distract from the quality of the person and talking about an informed decision by the electorate,” he said.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission would gladly welcome any suggestions from UN that might improve the electoral process in Nigeria.
He expressed the hope that the commission would conclude the ongoing review of the 2019 general election in the next two months, adding that these reviews have become standard practice by the INEC, and would involve all stakeholders across the electoral process.