Forming a Political Party in Nigeria is a right of individuals, which has its root under Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which provides that;
"Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest, provided that the provisions of this Section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by these Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission concerning the Political Parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.
Forming a Political Party in Nigeria involves having an association of members constituted and ready for the proposed party to participate in an election. Any Individual who intends to run a political office must be a registered member of a Political Party or can form and register his party.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is empowered by the Constitution to organize elections and register political parties in Nigeria. Some of the Constitutional requirement for the formation of a Political Party in Nigeria is contained in Section 221 and 222 of the 1999 Constitution.
The application for registration is made by the Chairman of the association of the political party, address to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and submitted to the headquarters of INEC.
Procedure to form a Political Party
To form a political party, the proposed association is to make an application to the Commission in FORM PAI and the application is to be accompanied by the following requirements;
- The name of the association and its acronym which must follow the following standard;
- The name of the proposed Party to be formed must not be the same or acronym of an already existing Party.
- The name or its acronym must not be such that has any ethic, religion, professional, or any other sectional meaning.
- It must not give the impression that the activities of the Party are confined only to a part of Nigeria.
- The proposed name and its acronym must not be couched in a way that is capable of misleading the ordinary voters at an election.
- The name, address, signatures, and residential addresses of the chairman and secretary, National and State Executive Committee members filling the application, under Section 222 (a) of the 1999 Constitution.
- The local council areas of origin of the National and State Executive Committees and the record of proceedings of the meeting in which the committee officers were elected.
- The minutes of the meeting of members of the National Executive Committee indicating approval and adoption of the Name, Constitution, Manifesto, Symbol and Logo of the proposed Political Party.
- The application is accompanied by evidence of payment of the prescribed non-refundable fee of N1,000,000 (One Million Naira) in bank draft.
- A register evidencing that membership of the association is open to every citizen of Nigeria who is a registered voter, regardless of the place of origin, ethnic group, sex, religion, or circumstance of birth, under Section 222 (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
- The party is to within 30 days submit fifty (50) copies of the completed Form PAI and 50 copies of the association's drafted Constitution and its manifesto to the Commission, such a constitution must conform to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution. The Constitution of the Party must be registered in the Electoral Commission's Form PAI and must contain the following;
- The proposed Party's aim and objectives, name, symbol, emblem, motto aims and objective, the distinctive description and interpretation of the symbol or logo of the Party.
- The Constitution must contain provisions for periodic election or democratic basis of the principal members and members of the executive committees or other governing bodies of the party.
- Provision of the administrative structure for the association.
- A provision that the membership of the National Executive or other governing bodies of the association at the National level reflects the Federal Character Principle of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- The Constitution must contain the Code of Conduct of its members.
- A provision that reflects the disciplinary procedure of the association, expressly stating the mode of expulsion, replacement, resignation, and appointing an ordinary member, party official, political office holder including persons elected into a political office on the platform of the association/party.
- It must also contain a provision that relates to the method of amending or altering the Constitution of the Political Party by Section 222 (a) of the 1999 Constitution.
- The Party in its formation must provide evidence of ownership or rental of an office in at least 24 States of the Federation, with its headquarters located in the Federal Capital Territory. The evidence can be evidenced by land titles documents or receipts of rent payment.
- A register evidencing the names, contact addresses, phone, and email addresses of persons in at least the 24 states who are members of the association.
- The symbol of the proposed Political Party must not bear the following;
- Coat of Arms of the Federation
- Coat of Arms of any Country
- Any portrait of a person either dead or living
- Ay religion or cult symbol
- Any symbol that has been previously registered by an existing Political Party in Nigeria or any other public organization.
- Any device that is associated with any official acts of the government or armed forces of the Federation or the Nigerian Police.
- A bank account statement indicating the bank account into which all income of the proposed political association has been paid and shall continue to be paid, and from which all expenses are paid and shall be paid.
The Electoral Commission after receiving the application for registration of an association as a Political Party will consider the application and verify the claims submitted before registering the Political Party. The Commission verifies the claims by performing the following acts;
- The Commission will publish the names contained in the application and membership of the political association in every State and Local Government Area of the Federation for seven (7) days for the general public to scrutinize and make objections where necessary.
- The composition of the members of the Executive Committee taking into account the Federal Character Principle of the Federation.
- That the name, acronym, and symbol comply with the requirements of the Commission and do not offend the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
- The Commission will check the application to ensure that the officers and members are registered, voters.
- Consider whether the application contravenes any guidelines of the Commission on the registration process.
- Will verify if the association has offices in at least 24 states of the Federation and in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as required by the Commission.
- The Commission will verify that the Constitution and manifesto of the association comply with the provisions of the Constitution.
- The Commission shall verify the Indigene Certificate submitted, confirming that members of the National Executive Committee are indigenes of the state as indicated against their names in the Form PAI.
Where the Electoral Commission is satisfied that all requirements are met, the Political Party will be registered and a Certificate of Registration will be issued, but where the association fails to meet the requirements, the Commission will refuse the application; its reason for refusal will be communicated to the applicant within 7 days by stating the grounds for its refusal.
Any false declaration by the association shall result in Non-Registration of the association as a Political Party or the withdrawal of the Certificate of Registration already issued by the INEC.
The application for registration can also be terminated by the INEC where the association fails to submit all documents supporting its application at the expiration of 30 days from the date the Form PAI was received.
Finally, the formation of a Political Party must be following the guidelines of registration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Any interested persons or groups wishing to form a political party may first seek legal advice and directions from INEC to comply with its current guidelines and regulations for registering a political party since electoral laws and INEC guidelines change frequently.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.