The Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday presented certificates of registration to the five newly-registered political parties in the country.
The parties are: Action Democratic Party, All Democratic People’s Movement, Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance, New Generation Party of Nigeria and Young Progressive Party.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while presenting the certificates to the parties in Abuja, urged them not to consider their registration as an end in itself.
Yakubu said that the registration should be seen as opportunity for the political parties to exercise their critical roles in the best interest of growing the country’s democracy.
He said: “As you are aware, political parties are at the heart of our democracy. Under the Constitution, no Nigerian can contest an election conducted by lNEC unless he/she is sponsored by a political party.
“Similarly, under the Constitution, you are registered to operate as national political parties.
“As such, you should remain committed to the politics of principles and development of the entire nation as articulated in your party constitutions and manifestos which you submitted along with your applications for registration.
“You must eschew the politics of division, bitterness, mud-slinging and hatred.
“You must also be inclusive in all your activities by giving opportunity to all citizens, especially disadvantaged groups such as women, youths and persons with disabilities.”
Yakubu assured that the new parties would enjoy equal rights and privileges of recognised political parties under the Constitution, the Electoral Act as well as INEC’s regulations and guidelines.
He assured: “At some time, the commission will continue to strictly monitor the activities of all political parties and will not hesitate to apply sanctions against any violation of the law governing the terms and conditions of your registration.
“I wish to remind all political parties that the law also provides for de-registration of parties. We shall vigorously apply this aspect of the law as the need arises.’’
The chairman said that INEC would pay special attention to the conduct of political parties during outstanding bye-elections and the three governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States.
Yakubu said: “The commission will pay special attention to the conduct of political parties as well as their candidates and supporters.
“Hate speech and other violations of the Electoral Acts attract appropriate sanctions under the law.”
He disclosed that the commission received three additional applications from associations seeking registration as political parties.
He said: “This means that the commission is currently processing 103 applications.
“Out of this number, six associations are currently undergoing the initial assessment of their logos, names, acronyms and other legal requirements for registration.
“Thirty-three associations have passed the initial assessment and advised to proceed with the necessary documentation in support of their applications.
“Ten associations have passed the initial assessment, submitted the necessary documentation and the Commission is currently verifying their submissions.
“Finally, 54 associations have failed the initial assessment due mainly to the similarity of their proposed names or logos with existing political parties or associations.”
Yakubu said that the commission would continue to give expeditious consideration to all applications in line with the requirements of the law.
On his part, Mohammad Nalado, the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, commended INEC for registering the five political parties, while congratulating the new parties.
Nalado urged Nigerians willing to go into politics to study the country’s Constitution and parties’ manifestoes to see if there was any party they could work with.
He said: “What is happening now is a good development. It is also good to consider how we can make it easier for the electorate when they want to make their choice when it comes to voting.
“I am sure that if the list is too long it will be very difficult for the electorate to make a very good choice.’’