Council election: INEC blames constitution

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Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has said the commission cannot take over conduct of local government elections unless there is a constitutional amendment to that effect.

The commission conducts area council polls within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Prof. Yakubu spoke in Lagos yesterday at the opening of a two-day induction retreat for 10 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and other commissioners.

He said: “It is good for people to do advocacy, but the constitution must be amended for INEC to take over the conduct of local government elections nationwide.

“Right now, INEC only conducts local government elections for the 68 constituencies, six area council chairmen and 62 councillors in the FCT. It is the only part of the country where there is regularity in the conduct of elections, where there have never been caretaker committees, and where no political party has won in all the 68 constituencies. We are encouraged by what we have done but, as for taking over the conduct of local government elections nationwide, the constitution has to be amended and we are not there yet.”

Prof. Yakubu noted the same law which established INEC also established state electoral commissions, and so INEC’s mandate does not include the conduct of local government elections, apart from the area council elections within the FCT.

The INEC chair also said that recent flooding of the commission’s office in Edo State affected most of the BEVS machines deployed in the state. Nevertheless, he said there is no cause for alarm as the commission has taken steps to remedy the situation.

He added: “We deployed our technical staff and have already recovered over 3,500 of those machines. Since the Edo State governorship election is an off-cycle poll, we would call for a backup from neighbouring states if we are not able to recover all the machines.

“I believe that apart from being an induction retreat, this platform affords everyone an opportunity for continuous learning, growth, and collaboration. I have no doubt that this retreat will introduce us to shared experiences, new insights, and also acquaint us with or reinforce our knowledge of INEC’s values and culture; with the ultimate aim of enhancing our Election Management Processes.

“I am therefore grateful to the Commission and our developmental partner, Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), for supporting this all-important and timely retreat.

While welcoming the participants to Lagos, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Ayobami Salami expressed the hope that the platform would afford everyone an opportunity for continuous learning, growth and collaboration.

“I, therefore, urge all of us to take this retreat seriously so that we would be able to deliver a transparent, credible and acceptable electoral process, devoid of bias and partisanship.”

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