The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warmed that the growing number of political parties may cause problems for the commission in 2019.
Chief Technical Adviser to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyinla, said this in Abuja on Monday at a retreat organised by the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.
He delivered a keynote address titled, ‘The Dynamics of Managing Political Parties Professionally’.
“Currently there are 68 registered political parties. As of today, there are more than 100 associations that have applied to INEC to register as political parties. This raises a number of questions which we want this retreat to address,” he said.
Eyinla wondered how INEC would be able to monitor congresses, conventions and primaries of all parties contesting over 1,000 elective positions nationwide.
“We are also going to be challenged if these 68 political parties and counting continue this way. We are just a commission.
“I cannot begin to imagine even as the technical adviser, how we will divide ourselves to monitor party conventions and primaries of 68 political parties across the length and breadth of this country.
“Already we have envisaged some of these challenges and we are coming up with strategies to deal with them in our election project plan.
“Ancillary to this is the fact that political party agents will also increase. I can imagine 68 political party agents in a polling unit.
“I think these are issues that we have to manage; but most importantly, how do we manage the ballot for 68 political parties?”
Eyinla said if any registered political party is mistakenly omitted from the ballot paper, it could lead to the total cancellation of the exercise.
“I think perhaps one of the largest ballots that I have seen is that of Afghanistan where the ballot paper is nearly the size of a prayer mat.
“Given our level of literacy, I think that is going to be a major challenge and as we know, the question of exclusion is a major issue in the electoral process.
“The chairman was literally sleeping and waking with the ballot for Anambra State election to ensure that no party was excluded; to ensure that the names and logo of the parties were correct because any slip could nullify the election.
“So, I think there is a challenge with managing the ballot that will come with the increasing number of political parties.”