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The ‘big two’ – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) are not included among the political parties featured in this investigation.
Currently, Nigeria has a total of 18 political parties registered by the INEC.
The number dropped to 18 after the commission deregistered 74 political parties in February 2020.
Most of the deregistered parties had dragged INEC to court in a bid to overturn their deregistration.
The 18 political parties registered by INEC are: Accord Party, Action Alliance, Action Democratic Party, Action Peoples Party, African Action Congress, African Democratic Congress, All Progressives Congress, All Progressives Grand Alliance, Allied Peoples Movement, Labour Party, National Rescue Movement, New Nigeria Peoples Party, People’s Democratic Party, Peoples Redemption Party, Social Democratic Party, Young Progressive Party, Zenith Labour Party and Boot Party.
The ICIR reporter visited the head offices of the registered political parties. The addresses of head offices are listed on their respective profiles of the parties on INEC’s website.
The visits, undertaken during working hours, was to get a first-hand account at head offices of the various political parties in Abuja.
The ICIR investigation focuses on party operations, visibility, office buildings and infrastructure, staff strength, party membership and preparations for the 2023 general elections.
Findings from the investigation, which spanned two months between August and October, reveal that most parties have no structure and presence at the Federal Capital Territory as required by INEC.
Visits to the head offices revealed a lack of institutional and organisational capacity among the political parties. And there was little or no sign of any official activities.
When The ICIR visited the head office of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) at Suite 206, Dabo Shopping Mall, Plot 73 Ladoke Akintola Way, Garki, Abuja, on August 25, only two receptionists were around.
There was no sign of any official or operational activities at the office located on the top floor.
The Nigerian flag and the party flag that are usually part of the paraphernalia of political party offices were not on display.
There was nothing to show that the office was the headquarter of ZLP, except for the faded party poster on the corridor and portraits of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s National Chairman Dan Nwanyanwu at the reception.
The ICIR correspondent had to ask several occupants of the shopping plaza before locating the political party’s office.
The receptionist on duty told The ICIR that no party official or other key staff of the political party was around to speak to a journalist.
Though The ICIR correspondent dropped a call card in the expectation that a party official would call, nobody has done so as of the time of this publication.
At the head office of Labour Party (LP) on 29 Oke Agbe Close, Off Ladoke Akintola Boulevard, Garki II Abuja, also on August 25, only a security man at the gate of the building was around when The ICIR visited at 1:47 pm.
The security man explained that no staff of the party was around at the time.
However, he added that a ‘barrister’ who could attend to enquiries was expected to arrive “any moment.”
The said barrister did not arrive before The ICIR’s correspondent left and nobody from the party contacted the reporter despite leaving a contact number with the security man.
The ICIR, however, observed that the LP’s head office had a signboard bearing the party’s name and logo. Flags were also mounted in front of the head office building.
The head office of the Accord Party is Area 3, in Garki, Abuja.
A faded and torn party flag hung outside the building on which the political party’s name was boldly displayed.
The ICIR visited the head office on September 1, at about 11:30 am. According to the office attendant who identified himself as Emmanuel, no official activity was happening in the office.
Apart from the office attendant, The ICIR’s correspondent did not see any other staff at the office.
Emmanuel explained that a party official who was inside the office at that moment would not be able to respond because he was having his breakfast.
The reporter also left a call card, but nobody from the political party contacted The ICIR.
The head office of Young Progressives Party (YPP) – Block 10, Flat No. 1 Benue Crescent, Area 1, Garki, Abuja – was under lock when The ICIR visited on September 1.
There was no sign of any workers or party members. The ICIR observed that flagpoles, which were used to mount flags at the office, were bare. It seemed the flags had been removed from the poles.
At the head office of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) – No. 8 Ogbabi Street, Adjacent Military Police Headquarters, Garki 11, Abuja – on September 1, The ICIR’s correspondent was only able to meet an office attendant.
Other staff of the party were nowhere in sight when The ICIR visited around noon.
Two faded and torn flags – the Nigerian flag and the party’s – hung above a high fence at the party’s head office. The premises appeared desolate.
The office attendant told The ICIR that a party official who was in the office at the time had just gone out for prayers. But he could not tell when the official would return.
It was a similar story at the head office of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on September 2.
The doors of the head office, at 16 Nairobi street, Off Parakou Estate, in Wuse 2, Abuja, were locked when the ICIR visited around 12: 00 pm.
A security man at the building gate explained that the political party’s workers were yet to resume in the office.
However, The ICIR observed that flags adorned the premises of the SDP’s head office. Also, the party’s name and logo were boldly displayed at the office.
On INEC’s website, the head office of Action Peoples Party (APP) is stated as No. 6 Alexander Crescent, Behind Banex Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The ICIR observed that the building on the address is Berger Paint Plaza, a shopping mall.
The ICIR’s correspondent called at the address on September 2.
Security personnel at the plaza said the political party occupies suites SF10, 11 and 12. But there was no sign of the party at the said location. Instead, the suites housed different firms.
A staff of one of the firms informed The ICIR that people usually come around looking for the political party. But he explained that he had no information concerning the party.
No staff or party member was around, and the office was still locked up at 11:45 am on September 23, when The ICIR visited the head office of the Action Alliance at Plot 1977 Orlu Street, Area 3, Garki, Abuja.
The building was located in a busy residential and office area, but although workers and residents were moving about, there was no sign of any activity in the party office.
A resident in an adjacent building, who spoke with The ICIR, said the head office is hardly busy.
On September 24, The ICIR sought out the head office of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), listed on INEC’s website as No. 1 Capital Plaza, Nyanyan-Karu Road, Abuja.
There was no sign of ADC at the address, and other occupants of the Capital Plaza had no idea of the whereabouts of the political party.
The address listed for African Action Congress (AAC) on INEC’s website is 19-21 Asokoro Modern Complex, Adjacent Admiralty Printing Press, Abuja.
There was no sign of the political party at the address when The ICIR visited on September 24.
A building at the address was locked, and there was no sign of activity in the place. There was no signposts or flags to identify the location as the head office of a political party.
Also, on September 24, The ICIR visited the head office of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) at Suite FF 1-5, Willands Plaza, Plot 511, Herbert Macaulay Way Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.
The office was locked up; there was no staff or party official around.
Apart from the NNPP’s logo and name above the office door, there was no other indication of the party’s presence in the plaza. There were no flags or signposts to suggest that a political party occupied spaces in the building.
The Allied Peoples Movement (APM) head office is at Plot 232, No. 2 Leventis Building, Samuel Adesujo Ademulegun Street, Off Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District Abuja.
Some party members were around at the time of the visit – 11:45 am on October 5.
But the party members could not respond to enquiries.
A female party member, who did not identify herself, told The ICIR that there was a standing instruction that only the publicity secretary should talk to the press.
“The publicity guy is not around, and we have a policy that only the publicity guy can talk to the media,” she said.
“I don’t know when he (publicity guy) will be around – we all have businesses we do. We are not workers. I am just getting here,” she added in response to further enquiries.
The head office of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) at Plot 3379A Mungo Park Close, Off Jesse Jackson Street, Asokoro New Extension, Abuja, had the appearance of a busy outfit.
A large billboard urging public members to join the party, which prides itself as the ‘credible alternative’, was mounted in front of the office.
There were also signposts, the Nigerian flag, and that of the party at various locations in the office premises.
But a security man at the office informed The ICIR that no party member, or staff of the organisation, was around at the time of the visit by 12:55 pm on October 5.
In response to enquiries, the security man explained that a woman who would have attended to The ICIR’s correspondent did not come to work because she was not feeling okay.
The head office of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), according to information on INEC’s website, is Plot 188 American International School Road, Off Oladipo Diya Expressway by Games Village, Durumi District, Abuja.
The head office building, a three-floor structure adorned with faded flags, was under locks when The ICIR visited on October 5.
Residents in an adjoining building informed The ICIR that the NRM head office had been locked up for a while, and members of the party had not been coming around.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was not present at No. 41B Libreville Crescent, Opposite Tulip Press, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja – its address on INEC’s website.
However, the party has its building at Katampe District in Abuja. But its official address with INEC continues to read No. 41B Libreville Crescent, Opposite Tulip Press, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja.
* Second visits, same situation
The ICIR undertook second visits to the head offices of the concerned political parties on October 11 and 12.
At the head office of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) on October 11, only one staff was around when The ICIR’s correspondent visited by 12: 15 pm. The staff identified himself as Anthony Onoja, a media assistant. Onoja did not provide a clear answer when asked about other staff of the political party. He also did not disclose the number of workers in the party’s head office. Instead, Onoja noted that ‘they come and go’.
But he boasted that the New Nigeria Peoples Party was the long-awaited ‘third force’ that Nigerians are expecting to break the APC/PDP duopoly.
Also, on October 11, The ICIR paid a second visit to the head office of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). Only a handful of workers and party members were in the office. No relevant official was around to respond to enquiries. A female party member, who recognised The ICIR’s correspondent from the earlier visit, asked who sent the reporter to investigate the political party. When told that the investigation involved other political parties, the woman insisted that ‘fifth columnists’ within the APM tipped off the reporter to investigate the party.
The ICIR’s correspondent did not meet any staff or party members during second visits to the head offices of Action Alliance, Accord Party, Zenith Labour Party, Labour Party, Social Democratic Party, and Peoples Redemption Party on October 11.
Although the door to the reception area entrance at the head office of Accord Party was open, no worker or party official attended to The ICIR’s correspondent during the visit at 13: 35 pm. But a security man at the gate of the building said workers were around.
The head office of Zenith Labour Party, at Dabo Shopping Mall, in Garki 2, was locked when The ICIR visited by 1:55 pm.
Workers in neighbouring offices at the mall said the only staff of the political party on duty, a lady, stepped out just moments before The ICIR’s correspondent arrived.
The gate of the head office of Peoples Redemption Party was closed, and there was no response from the building.
However, The ICIR observed that new party flags had replaced the faded ones seen at the office during the first visit.
At the head office of the Action Democratic Party, no official was around to respond to enquiries. There was little sign of activities when The ICIR visited for a second time.
Only one woman was at the head office of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) during the second visit of The ICIR on October 12.
The woman did not respond when asked about her designation in the political party. Instead, she said nobody was around to talk to the press.
Second visits did not resolve the uncertainty over the addresses of the head offices of African Action Congress, African Democratic Congress, Action Peoples Party and National Rescue Movement.
Nobody was in the building at the address listed on the INEC website as the African Action Congress head office when The ICIR visited again on October 12. The building appeared unoccupied.
African Democratic Congress was not at Capital Plaza, Nyanyan-Karu road, but some other occupants informed The ICIR that the party had since moved out of the location.
However, its address on the INEC website remains No.1 Capital Plaza, Nyanyan-Karu road, Abuja.
A former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, recently announced plans to contest the presidential election in 2023 on the party’s platform.
Despite No. 6 Alexander Crescent, behind Banex Plaza Wuse II Abuja, being listed on INEC’s website as the head office of Action Peoples Party, the party was not at the location. The ICIR did not find the party at the address during a second visit on October 12.
The head office of the National Rescue Movement, at Plot 188 American International School Road, Off Oladipo Diya Expressway by Games Village, Durumi District, Abuja, was still under locks when The ICIR visited the location for a second time on October 12.
An estate agent who manages the building housing the head office informed The ICIR that the property owner had locked out the political party since May over issues relating to non-payment of rent. The agent, who did not wish to be named, disclosed that the property owner is planning to remove the party’s flags from the building.
* Building capacity of political parties is a work in progress … INEC
Reacting to findings from the investigation, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the institutional and organisational capacity of the political parties is still being developed.
“Building the institutional and organisational capacities of political parties is a continuous effort with technical support of development partners,” a spokesman of INEC Rotimi Oyekanmi told The ICIR.
The INEC spokesman further insisted that “All the 18 political parties have registered offices within the Federal Capital Territory as required by law.”
But Oyekanmi did not respond when The ICIR pointed out that some of the political parties are not present at the address of their head offices. This development contravened INEC’s requirements for the registration of political parties.
Section 3 (E) (IX) of INEC’s Guidelines for the Registration of New Political Parties stated that no association should be registered as a political party unless it submits a draft constitution and manifesto which must contain “a provision stating that the National Headquarters of the association is situated in the Federal Capital Territory”.
Oyekanmi also did not respond when The ICIR observed that most of the head offices were not functional.
The INEC spokesman’s response suggests that the electoral commission was not aware of the actual state of the political parties, beyond their compliance with the legal requirement of having a registered office within the FCT.
The INEC spokesman also suggested that it was not the electoral commission’s responsibility to build the institutional and organisational capacities of the political parties.
INEC stopped funding political parties in 2010 when the National Assembly stopped providing budgetary allocations to the commission to support political parties.