By Angela Atabo
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said that 80 political parties submitted applications for registration ahead of the 2019 elections in Nigeria.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this known on Tuesday at the Fourth Situation Room Stakeholders Forum on Elections, organised by a coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there are currently 67 political parties already registered.
Yakubu, who was represented by Dr AdeKunle Ogunmola, a National Commissioner at INEC, said that the commission was also being asked to register independent candidates for the elections.
“As it is today, 80 more groups are seeking registration as political parties.
“We will continue to register them until the time scheduled by the Electoral Act for us to stop.
“The issue of Independent candidacy is still there too.
“Right now, we are thinking of how to design our ballot papers to take care of all the registered political parties.
“So far, the hardest was the Anambra election, where 37 political parties fielded candidates,’’ the chairman said.
Yakubu said the commission was determined to ensure that the 2019 elections were free, fair and credible.
He added that INEC would give special attention to the voters’ register.
Mr Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the electoral process in Nigeria remained deeply contentious and weak in spite of remarkable reforms in the system.
Malami, who was also represented by Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, said the Federal Executive Council had set-up an implementation committee on the report of the electoral reform committee.
He said that the committee, headed by the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, would develop a white paper on the report of the Sen. Ken Nnamani-led committee.
He spoke on the need to finalise preparation for the 2019 general elections, with just about one year to go.
Malami said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to improve on the gains made in previous elections and has taken several steps to strengthen the INEC.
According to him, the government has ensured that INEC is able to operate as an independent and credible umpire.
The convener of the Situation Room, Mr Clement Nwankwo, said the country had witnessed some improvement in the nation’s electoral process.
Nwankwo said that the integrity of INEC had improved since 2011.
“The hope is that looking towards 2019, it will improve further,’’ he said.
The convener, however, said that there were challenges of money politics.
“Looking ahead, we see that INEC has the determination, the integrity and the possibility to ensure that 2019 elections will be an improvement.
“The electoral process is in the hands of INEC and every other person is supposed to facilitate INEC’s work, including security services, CSOs and political parties.’’