Should INEC Take Over The Conduct Of Local Government Elections?

Posted on May 17, 2024
 
 
The incremental improvements in INEC’s processes leading to the renewed call for a possible takeover of local government election aren’t a set of gifts. It is indeed a direct result of sustained agitation for electoral reforms by civil society organisations, citizen groups, the international community and donor partners, government and private foundations after the scandalous 2007 general elections that the winner himself was so embarrassed that he had to set up the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee.
So, we haven’t shown that level of attention to sub-national elections. We have paid scant attention to the overbearing control of governors who see the Local Government as extension of their Government Houses.
On this very important matter, I wholeheartedly support the idea that the Independent National Electoral Commission should take over the conduct of local government elections. INEC, in addition to its responsibility of conducting national and state elections, should take over the conduct of local government elections in Nigeria due to our peculiar circumstances.  From our experience, the State Independent Electoral Commissions have proven incapable of conducting free, fair and credible elections.
So, I am in full support of INEC taking over the process from the states.
If INEC takes over, it will go a long way in boosting the credibility of elections at the local government level. It will also improve participation at the grass roots level.
Many people have lost confidence in the State Independent Electoral Commissions because we all know that what they are doing in the name of elections are not elections at all. They simply allocate votes in favour of the ruling party in their states of operations, in my humble view.
It therefore, becomes imperative that if INEC is given this additional responsibility, it should be energised. Even as it is today, the responsibility given to INEC is not given the required financial and logistics support in terms of facilities and equipment. If it is saddled with the additional responsibility of conducting local government elections, there is the need for the commission to be properly funded to enable it to cope with the additional responsibility.
What therefore needs to happen may not necessarily be the often relied upon attitude of sidestepping our challenges but confronting them head-on. We must support genuine Local Government autonomy.
It will be in national interest if the Independent National Electoral Commission takes over the conduct of the local government elections. It will bring about uniformity in the conduct of the election and confirm credibility. The conduct of local government elections has always attracted criticisms because of the manner State Independent Electoral Commissions go about them. Many times, opposition political parties abstain from the election because they know it is the governors that determine the outcome of the elections at this level. The conduct does not guarantee independence.
If INEC takes over the process at this level, governors can no longer call the shots to derail the process. There are states that have not conducted local government elections in the last eight years and the SIECs cannot act otherwise. But if INEC takes over, it will confer some level of fairness on the electoral process. More political parties will participate and it will also guarantee the independence of the local government administration. So, it will be a step in the right direction if INEC takes over the conduct of elections at this level. This is my humble opinion on the matter.
– Comrade UduakAbasi Ikpat writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. 

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