Local Govt Polls Mere Coronation Of Ruling Parties’ Candidates – INEC


Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday said, the conduct of local government elections in virtually all the states of the federation, has become mere coronation of candidates of the ruling parties.

Yakubu stated this when the leadership of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions (FOSIECOM) paid a courtesy on him at INEC’s Headquarters in Abuja.

He said it was time to stop the coronation and conduct proper elections, insisting that state governors should allow the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) to have greater capacity for independent action.

The INEC chairman observed that many of the SIECs have no functional offices in the local government areas in their states and cannot recruit their own permanent staff.

He said in some states, the SIECs are either not properly constituted, have no security of tenure or their critical functions have been taken over by government officials while some are only constituted on the eve of elections and dissolved thereafter.

According to Yakubu, the SIECs are also severely under-resourced to the extent that some of them rely on INEC even for basic facilities such as ballot boxes and voting cubicles.

“Consequently, many Nigerians mistake the SIECs for INEC. Indeed, even some of the stakeholders, including candidates for Local Government elections, call them State INEC. This situation has forced us to reconsider some aspects of our relationship with the SIECs.

“Our support is now largely restricted to the voters’ register as provided by the Constitution. INEC cannot shoulder its own extensive responsibilities and at the same time extend almost limitless support to other independent electoral commissions for elections outside our mandate across the country from our lean Federal budget,” he said.

Yakubu reiterated that INEC conducts elections for the 68 constituencies in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), comprising six Area Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors, including bye-elections as they arise.

He expressed hope that the elections conducted by INEC in the FCT will provide a model for Local Government elections across the country, saying in spite of the challenges encountered, there has been a progressive improvement in the conduct of the Area Council Elections in the FCT.

The INEC chairman said there was security of tenure for chairmen and councillors which is now four years; no caretaker committees as elections are held regularly and plurality in electoral outcomes as no single party has ever won elections in all the constituencies in the area councils.

“Happily, the Electoral Act 2022 that now governs the conduct of national and Area Council elections also applies to Local Government elections nationwide. This has been made possible by the efforts of INEC arising from earlier discussions with FOSIECOM on the imperative of a model law to govern the conduct of Local Government elections across the country.

“I therefore appeal to FOSIECOM to take the bull by the horns. While there are legal and financial constraints to your operations, your independence does not necessarily draw from statutory or financial provisions alone. The courage with which you discharge your obligation to protect the integrity and credibility of elections is the most important determinant of success. There are no shortcuts to the discharge of this enormous responsibility,” he added.

Earlier, the chairman of FOSIECOM and chairman of the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission, Jossy Eze acknowledged the support of INEC over the years and solicited more assistance as the SIECs struggle for independence and improved electoral process at the third tier of government.


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