The Independent National Electoral Commission says the number of associations seeking to be registered as political parties has reached 136.
This is barely a month to the deadline of fresh registration of parties which is August.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this at the second regular quarterly consultative meeting with political parties in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said with the already registered 68 political parties, that would imply that the ballot papers would need to be modified and voter education would need to increase.
The INEC boss added, “With 68 political parties and 136 applications being processed, we need to raise the awareness of citizens on the manifestos, logos and acronyms of political parties. Similarly, we need to find different ways of managing the ballot papers for the general elections.
“As a proactive step, the commission has been working on a number of options regarding the design of the ballot paper and the management of the ballot box. We shall demonstrate a number of options to this meeting for consideration and suggestions.”
Yakubu said 62 associations had already met the requirements while 74 had failed.
He added, “By way of a quick update, we are as of July 3, 2018, processing 136 applications from associations seeking registration as political parties. Out of this figure, 74 have failed the initial assessment of the suitability of their names and logos while 62 have passed the initial assessment.
“Nine associations have undergone verification of their offices and proposed leadership while 16 are either awaiting verification or yet to supply supporting documents. We shall continue to operate within the ambit of the law in the registration of political parties.”
Yakubu said the commission had reported the sale of some blank Permanent Voter Cards on the Internet to security agencies.
He said the commission had also written to the Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational e-commerce website, that provides sales services via web portals.
According to the INEC boss, Alibaba, which was selling the blank PVCs, had since deleted the post.
He, however, added that some unscrupulous elements were still selling the PVCs hence the need to report to security agencies.
Yakubu said, “We have extracted a commitment from Alibaba.com to stop this unwholesome practice forthwith and will continue to work with the security agencies to track down those responsible for the advert as well as any prospective buyers of which there are none so far.
“We suspect that many dubious enterprises will keep trying openly and in the dark web. We have anticipated these challenges and we are far ahead of the mischief makers.”
The INEC boss also rubbished allegations by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State that the smart card readers that would be used for the July 14 governorship election in the state had been programmed in such a way as to ensure that the All Progressives Congress would win.
Although he did not mention Fayose’s name, the INEC chairman said it was unfortunate that those who should know better continue to make spurious allegations.
Yakubu said the card readers that were to be used for the Ekiti election had not yet been programmed but would be done a few days or hours before the election and they would be deprogrammed immediately after voting.
He said, “The claim that the PVCs are cloned and smart card readers pre-loaded is simply ludicrous. The card readers are only configured to specific polling units 72 hours or less before an election, set to operate only on election day from 8 am and is manually shut down for accreditation after the last person in the queue has voted or automatically by 8 pm.
“In Ekiti State where we are deploying the enhanced smart card readers, this process has not even commenced. It is impossible to pre-load the card readers, let alone do so with cloned PVCs.”
On the number of persons that have registered since the Continuous Voter Registration began in April last year, the INEC boss said 9, 922, 619 Nigerians had registered as of June 22, 2018.
Yakubu added that 576,346 had received their PVCs while 489, 354 had requested transfer of their registration. He further stated that 766,435 had requested replacement of lost cards.
The INEC boss also warned state-owned media to ensure that equal coverage was given to opposition parties in their respective states.
He said it was wrong for any governor to deny opposition members access to state-owned media even as he urged political parties who were not being given coverage to go to court in line with the Electoral Act.