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26 March 2019
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is categorically opposed to the agenda of deregistration of political parties that did not win elective seats. This policy is undemocratic and negates the principle of multi-party 'democracy'. We call on parties, the labour movement and civil society to condemn this threat and be prepared to organize campaigns to resist it. The game plan for the ruling elite is to limit the political space to the major capitalist political parties as a means of stiffing political opposition. Deregistration of parties based on winning of elective post negates the principle of equity and fairness; it equally violates the principle of Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution with specific reference to Section 38 (freedom of thought and conscience), Section 39 (freedom of expression) and Section 40 (freedom of association).
The proponents of deregistration of political parties are making a reactionary case and unfortunately, Femi Falana has lent his voice in support of deregistration of political party despite his roles in the struggle for political alternative in the past. The Nigerian anti-poor capitalist ruling elite have fought tooth and nail to limit the political space to rightwing parties. In 1999, the parties were PDP, APP and AD. The legal and political struggle to open up the political space was spearheaded by Gani Fawehinmi and Balarabe Musa and since then the ruling elite have consistently tinkered with various laws to make registration and existence of political parties extremely difficult. The SPN also fought INEC undemocratic policies legally and politically for over three years before it was registered.
Coming out of the 2019 general election, the major problem encountered, just like in previous elections, was not the participation of multiple political parties. The election was marred by violence, the use of thugs and security operatives to thwart election process, multiple voting, massive vote buying, manipulations, killing, intimidation of voters and opposition political parties and bribery of electoral officers and security operatives. All these were orchestrated by the dominant capitalist political parties (PDP, APC, etc.). These various crimes committed by the major capitalist political parties undermined the credibility of the election. Indeed, it is partly the massive rigging, manipulation and violence perpetrated by pro-establishment parties such as APC and PDP in connivance with the INEC that have made it difficult for the so-called small parties to win any elective post. Yet, the capitalist ruling elite want to use the precarious conditions they foist on the so-called parties as the basis for deregistration.
It is grossly illogical for political parties to be deregistered because they failed to win a seat thereby reducing the roles of political parties to winning election alone. We strongly feel that the primary role of political parties in society is social and political mobilization of the people around certain ideals, programs and policies as a means of contributing to the development of such society.
There are 13 parties represented in the South African Parliament and 56 parties unrepresented and none of the parties who were unable to win a seat has been deregistered. The US model that the Nigerian ruling elite borrowed has two dominant political parties (Democrat and Republican) and about 38 other minor parties, but has no registration of parties. For example, Prohibition Party in the US was founded in 1869 and polled 5,617 in the 2016 presidential election and it is allowed to keep standing.
About 73 million collected their PVC but only 27 million actually voted which is about 36% participation and the declared winner was elected by just 21% of eligible voters while the governorship elections had even lower participation. We must state that this very low participation would have been much lower if massive vote buying never took place. The proponents of party deregistration should worry more about low voters' participation which is an indictment on the ruling elite as a result of the failure to meet the wishes and aspirations of the people. Should the ruling elite and the so-called big parties be denied of looted public funds and kickbacks from bourgeois contractors who benefited from fraudulent contracts, it would mark the end of such parties. A political party has a right to decide not to contest elections for as long as possible and still play its role as opposition party.
The SPN feels strongly that, if the present arrangement continues, the basis for registration and deregistration of a political party should be the failure to comply with chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution that states the fundamental objectives and directive principles of State Policy. Section 16 (1 and 2) states clearly that the economy should be run to secure maximum welfare of the people, for the major sectors of the economy to be managed by the State and the State and governance should not permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchanges in the hands of a few individuals or of a group. Since the advent of civil rule, the ruling elite through the dominant capitalist political parties have run this country in violation of Chapter 2 of the Constitution through sustained neo-liberal, anti-poor capitalist policies (privatization, deregulation, commercialization etc.) that created more misery, poverty, unemployment and has concentrated much of our collective wealth in the hands of a privileged few.
However, the SPN recognizes that some political parties are being established for opportunist purposes and for enrichment of key party leaders. But the SPN does not fall in this category and we have never collaborated with any of the pro-rich capitalist major parties for pecuniary or other reasons. We feel strongly that the fate of a political party arising from its conducts and activities should be left to the Nigerian people/electorate to decide.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) will resist the plan to undemocratically deregister political parties. SPN is committed to socialist programme which entails a socio-economic and political agenda based on a public sector-led economy and geared towards meeting the needs of all and not the profit, privileges and wasteful lifestyle of a few. It is the fear that this programme can get support which is a factor in the drive to deregister parties. But even if we are deregistered unlawfully and undemocratically for a time, the SPN will not go away, we will continue to fight in the interests of working people and for the building of a mass movement that can wrestle control of this country out of the hands of the thieving elite.