About 25 years after the last one was conducted, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has activated the process of delineation of federal constituencies in accordance with provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Customarily, both the constitution and the Electoral Act, provide that a review of electoral constituencies for the various political offices in the country be carried out after every national headcount or every ten years.
The political exercise which is intended to provide a level playing ground for all those vying for elections as well as deepen the democratic process, involves the reappraisal of the defining criteria for the constituencies such as increase or decrease in population as well as boundary shifts, among other factors.
But in an outright breach of constitutional provisions, the last constituency delineation in the country was conducted in 1996.
The planned constituency delineation followed a request by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the National Assembly.
Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will work with INEC to properly delineate electoral constituencies across the country ahead of the 2023 general election.
Lawan gave the assurance yesterday when a delegation from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by its chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, paid him a visit in his office in Abuja.
The Senate president said the delineation of electoral constituencies in the country would enhance democracy as well as provide equitable and fair representation in Nigeria’s governance structure.
He explained further that having more districts and constituencies would present a level playing field for all Nigerians to elect leaders of their choice at the polls.
He underscored the need for the federal government to find a way around getting accurate information about the country’s population size, stressing that such information is significant and critical for the creation of more constituencies in disadvantaged areas.
He said, “The issue of delineation or creation of more electoral constituencies is like the previous one on the polling units. But unlike the polling units, this is going to be more difficult because you need more information, especially on the population.
“And because we didn’t have a census after the 2006 exercise, now we have to find a way of getting information about our population size because that is very important and significant in taking any decision in that respect.
Lawan stated that the exercise for the creation of electoral constituencies had become imperative, particularly against the backdrop of resolving conflicts arising from court verdicts and the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended.
Speaking earlier, INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said the delineation of constituencies requires an Act of the National Assembly, noting that “the major consideration for revision of the country into constituencies is the population quota.”
He stated that the National Assembly has powers under the constitution to actually request INEC to delineate constituencies by an Act of the Assembly.
“No Act of the National Assembly has asked INEC to delineate constituencies since the last delineation in 1996”, Yakubu added.
…Says APGA Not Disqualified From Anambra Governorship Poll
Also, INEC yesterday debunked claims that the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has been disqualified from participating in the governorship election slated for November 6, 2021 in Anambra State.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the chief press secretary (CPS) to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said there are no factions in APGA.
Oyekanmi who noted that details of the party are on the commission’s website said the commission has not said APGA will not participate in the Anambra governorship election.
Also, yesterday, INEC expressed fears over Nigeria’s worsening security problems as it commences the continuous voter registration ahead of the 2023 general election on 28 June, 2021.
The electoral umpire said although the attacks have subsided, the commission is still deeply worried by the threat that they could pose to registrants and its staff during the CVR.
INEC chairman, Yakubu, who expressed the views of the commission at a press conference heralding the launch of the online registration portal for the resumption of the CVR in Abuja, recalled the recent attacks on its offices across the country.
He said the commission will not be deterred by attacks visited on its infrastructures, noting that the attackers intended to stop the commission from conducting elections in the country.
The INEC boss said the commission is committed to ensuring the CVR sees the light of the day as the stipulated date of June 28 for take-off remains sacrosanct.
He stated that after a series of meetings with stakeholders, security agencies, INEC has further resolved to place a high premium on the lives of registrants and staff of the commission in view of the security challenges faced by it.
In its determination to serve Nigerians better during the CVR, Yakubu said the commission is introducing a dedicated portal for online registration.
The helmsman of the commission said the idea is for intending registrants to commence the process online by filling the forms and uploading their pictures and required documents, and then make an appointment on the web portal for a date and time to visit state or local government area (LGA) offices to give their fingerprints and complete the registration.
He stated: “In addition, those who are already registered as voters can carry out all the other activities such as transfers, correction of personal details, and replacement of damaged or defaced Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) online.
“We hope that through this portal, we shall reduce overcrowding at our registration centres, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, make the registration processes generally easier, thereby giving Nigerians a pleasant electoral experience.
“The portal will go live in the early hours of Monday 28th June 2021. However, I must quickly reiterate that the online registration is a public service and therefore free of charge.
“There is no INEC-approved cybercafe, no online registration centre and no scratch card to be purchased for the exercise. All you need is a device, including your mobile phone that can connect to the internet. Citizens can complete the online pre-registration anywhere and at any time they choose. Just follow the simple but detailed step-by-step procedure on the portal and contact the INEC Help Desk where necessary. The details are on our website.”
He also allayed fears expressed by some Nigerians that many citizens may be disenfranchised by the new digital arrangement.
He said the commission was aware that not all Nigerians have computers, smartphones, access to the internet, or residing in urban and suburban areas.