The National Assembly recently embarked on amendment of some sections of the 1999 constitution as part of its statutory obligation.
It was indeed an exercise commended by most Nigerians considering the fact that clamour to have the constitution amended has reached a high dimension.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu was Chairman of the constitution review committee, they did a thorough job and recommended a total of 33 alterations in the constitution.
Clause by clause Debate and voting of the amendment took place at the Senate and House of Representatives on July 26 and 27 respectively. Most of the items recommended for alteration were endorsed by both the Senate and Reps members except a few on which the two house voted in opposite direction.
One of the clauses in the report said that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should henceforth conduct elections at the local government levels against the present arrangement where State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) conducts the election.
The reasons Senators wants SIEC scrapped is not far-fetched, chiefly was to allow for greater autonomy of the local government. The whole essence is captured in Senator Dino Melaye’s statements during debate on the clause” the autonomy of local government was sacrosanct and there will be fairness only if INEC is allowed to conduct elections into councils.”
Arguing further, he said, “How do we speak of local government autonomy without addressing the foundations, States has to be stripped of powers to constitute State Electoral Commissions to conduct elections into local government.”
“The State Independent Electoral commission which is constituted by state government is practically a joke, the local government elections has to be conducted by INEC to guarantee its credibility”
What use to happen is that the state Governors sit in the comfort of their offices and select who and who be pronounce chairman of LGA by the SIECs in their respective states”
“There is always no conduct of LGA elections in any state, allowing states to oversee the conducts of local governments will continue to make mess of the LGAs autonomy”
The fact is most of the Senators are ex- Governors, and they understands how well the Governors manipulates the process right from the selection of members of the Commission to the election proper.
Notwithstanding, the House of Representatives saw it from another perspective, apparently because they do not have proper understanding of what transpires in local government election, but even if they really do not. How do they want to solve the mathematical equation of advocating for local government autonomy and still leave the conduct of council’s election in the hands of state government?
For now, all hope is still not lost as they can still reconsider their decision on the matter when they resume from recession. Until then, Nigerians are waiting.
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