ABUJA—Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday cried out that more than 100 political parties
could enter the ballot paper in the forthcoming general elections as it revealed that 138 political associations had
applied for registration as political parties.
Speaking at an election stakeholders’ summit in Abuja, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, also disclosed that
Nigerian Immigration Service has been deployed to the voters registration centres across the country, with more than
300 non-Nigerians apprehended for attempting to register.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
He said an estimated nine million Nigerians had as at May 24 been added to the nation’s voters’ register, bringing the total
number of Nigerians captured to vote at an estimated 80 million.
He also revealed that the commission was working on a draft policy on diaspora voting, even as he said the commission was
collaborating with security agencies and formulating administrative procedures to check the incident of vote buying at polling centres.
The election stakeholders summit organised by Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, the umbrella body for more than
400 non-governmental organisations in the country, drew participation from a wide spectrum of civil society, the
country’s election management body, the media among others.
TMG chairman, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, while welcoming stakeholders to the summit expressed the determination
of civil society to collaborate with INEC and other election stakeholders towards improving the country’s electoral process.
138 associations apply for registration as political parties
Noting the laws of the land, Yakubu said that there was nothing the commission could do to stop an association from
applying to register as a political party, saying an estimated 138 associations had so far applied and a number of the
applicants would be registered before the 2019 elections.
He said: “As at June 8, 2018, we have received requests from 138 associations to register as political parties to join the alread
y 68 registered political parties. So, we may have more than the 68 registered political parties before the 2019 general elections.”
He, however, expressed concern that registering more political parties could have effect on the size of ballot paper, the ballot box
and also have implications on the speed of processing the election outcome.
On when the ballot papers could be ready, he said: “I am looking at November when we will have the sample of the ballot paper
and by that time we would also have known the number of political parties contesting in each constituency.”
Giving reason why some intending voters may have had problems enrolling themselves into the national voters register during
the ongoing continuous voters registration exercise, Yakubu said the commission had to cut down on cost as it would have cost
the commission N1.2 billion daily to mount registration centres at every polling unit as demanded by some stakeholders.
That, he said, would have amounted to N131 billion for the whole exercise, an amount, he said was not available to the commission.
He said that currently, there were 1,146 registration centres nationwide.
On when the voter cards would be ready, he said: “We have been processing the cards and we will make sure that citizens
collect their PVCs before the 2019 general elections.”
Diaspora voting coming
He said the commission had gone far on a draft policy on Diaspora voting, saying it would become a reality once the Electoral Act
and the constitution are amended to give effect to it.
He said: “Vote buying is a big problem and we have been working with the EFCC and the police on this. We have to look at the
administration of voting process by ensuring increased secrecy at the voting point.”
He also revealed that electronic voting could in the near future be a reality in the country, saying the architecture for the process
was increasingly being added to the present voting system in the country.
Yakubu lamented the delay in the provision of funds for procurements as he disclosed that as many as 20,000 card readers that
failed the integrity test after the last elections needed to be replaced.