The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed concern over the refusal of 11 states to conduct Local Council elections saying it contravenes the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
They are Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Imo, Kano, Katsina, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states.
It was also resolved that states that have not conducted council elections and are under various caretaker committees should urgently do so without further delay
The commission also called for the operational and financial independence of State Independent Electoral Commissions saying they were key to the conduct of free, fair and credible Local Government “and should be constitutionally guaranteed.”
INEC’s positions are contained in a communique after a two-day conference on best practices in election management in Kaduna.
The resolution signed by its Director (Voter Education and Publicity), Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, was obtained by SATURDAY PUNCH in Abuja.
He said, “Eleven states namely: Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Ekiti, Imo, Kano, Katsina, Ondo, Osun and Oyo have, disappointingly, failed to conduct local council elections and the LGAs in these states are either under caretaker committees or, in one case (Delta), under the Head of Personnel Management, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The operational and financial independence of SIECs is key to the conduct of free, fair and credible local government and should be constitutionally guaranteed. INEC’s preparations for the 2015 general elections particularly in areas such as the Election Project Plan, Election Management System, Constituency Delimitation, continuous voter registration and voter education amongst many others are impressive. All political parties should intensify civic and voter education as part of their responsibilities as mobilizers of voters and aggregators of opinions.”
The commission also observed that the conduct of free, fair and credible elections at national as well as local government levels was indispensable to the expansion and deepening of Nigeria’s democratic experience.
While calling for the operational and financial independence of SIECs to be constitutionally guaranteed, INEC called on State governments “to create enabling conditions that can allow SIECs to operate professionally and creditably.”
The conference also resolved call on political parties to begin extensive civic and voter education campaigns to compliment the work of SIECs and INEC.
Participants also resolved to explore more avenues of cooperation between SIECs and INEC in addressing the challenges arising from the electoral and political processes.
The conference, among other objectives, was aimed at deepening the Memorandum of Understanding between SIECs and INEC, reinforcing their good working relations and seeking further ways of cooperation towards more credible electoral and democratic processes.