45 days to presidential poll: 14 political parties yet to commence campaigns
•INEC ballot box
Out of the 18 parties registered for the February 25 presidential election, the major ones are dominating as the campaign ahead of the polls heads into the home stretch, New Telegraph can report. Apart from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Political Party (NNPP), the remaining 14 parties have not commenced their nationwide campaigns and their posters and billboards are also not visible.
Investigations by the platform revealed that many of the smaller parties have either been battling with leadership issues or have been inactive due to a cash crunch.
In February 2020, INEC deregistered 74 parties over their inability to win any election during the 2019 general election, leaving the 18. Apart from their involvement in some of the town hall meetings, many of the smaller parties have been silent. As the fringe parties continue to miss the political scene, the APC, PDP, LP and NNPP have continued their campaigns across the country. But some political analysts have said the smaller parties should not be blamed for their inactivity.
The Secretary-General of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Willy Ezugwu claimed that the big parties have not created a level playing field for the smaller ones to thrive. Ezugwu said there is no way the smaller parties challenge the APC and PDP because of the resources involved.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned we know what is going on in Nigeria.
You know how the other two main parties feel they have structures, what they did in their party primaries where dollars were shared as if they manufacture dollars in Nigeria.
“So, there is no way other parties can equate or challenge them in terms of the campaign knowing how expensive things are in Nigeria today. It is only those two political parties that can do what they are doing today. As a Nigerian, you don’t have to blame those smaller parties because there is no level playing ground for them to fairly contest for the election.”
A public affairs analyst, Achike Chude, said the smaller parties decided to field candidates because they wanted to make an impact. But Chude said there is a difference between intent and the ability to back up that intent with practical action by putting in all that is needed.
He said: “It is not about being articulate or patriotic because you cannot say for instance that the main political contenders are more patriotic or articulate than some of these ones. Some of the presidential candidates of the smaller parties are very articulate but there is something that they don’t have and that is resources. And essentially, the reason why it is so if you look deeper is that the traditional political parties have very deep pockets.
“When people talk about the smaller parties, one must also show a level of understanding of the fact that they do not have all the resources that are needed to prosecute the process.
“But then, people might say if that is the case why they decided to run in the first place they want to make an impact and make a statement that this country belongs to everybody. It is not for lack of seriousness or commitment, it is essentially because it takes a lot of money to move around the country and run a nationwide election and they don’t have it.”
Chude said if the smaller parties fail to make any impact in the general election, they might again be deregistered by INEC. Former APC Director of Organisation, Prof. Ussiju Medaner said the party has a structure in all local governments to win the election. Medaner said the party’s vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima has moved to the grassroots to galvanise votes.
He said: “Shettima has gone to the community base to get in touch with those that matter in the communities. And now he is concentrating on the northern part of the country where you have almost about 86,000 polling units in the zone and more than 4000 wards and some 400 local governments.
“This is how this election will go and this is what so many experts are talking about. The structure is not just about the people but the units and these are the main issues.”