By Lateef Ibrahim
The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu on Thursday made a strong case for the review of laws regulating the conduct of local government elections in the country as well financial autonomy of the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIEC).
Prof Yakubu canvassed this when he played host to members of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON ) during a courtesy on him in Abuja.
The INEC Chairman emphatically declared that the two issues, which are very critical to the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections at the local government level, need to be seriously considered.
Yakubu recalled that there had been discussions in the past on the need to have a modern law, model on the Electoral Act, to govern the conduct of local government elections nationwide.
According to him, “We need modern laws to guide and to govern the conduct of local government elections in the country, that draw, to a considerable extent, from the national electoral legal framework.
“The second issue is we need to work together for the independence of SEIC. The Independence of SIEC cannot be guaranteed where there is no financial independence.
“We will look at whatever we can do to work to ensure financial independence for the SIEC that will enormously help the conduct of elections,’’, he stated.
The INEC chairman assured of the continued partnership of INEC with FOSIECON to ensure the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
The relationship between INEC and SIEC Yakubu maintained, should be organic, adding that the two electoral bodies were both created by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said that while INEC was created to conduct elections for the federal, state and FCT elective positions, SIEC was in charge of Local Government elections.
While noting that although INEC was not involved in the conduct of LG elections, Yakubu recalled that the commission had been partnering with SIEC in several ways, including the provision of register of voters, ballot boxes and voting cubicles to the latter in conduct of such elections.
The INEC Chairman therefore harped on the need for a continuous interactions between the two electoral bodies, recalling that they met in February 2018 where they discussed the need for regular interaction and others critical issues that must be acted upon.
The Chairman of FOSIECON, Justice Igbozuruike Akomas, rtd, had earlier explained that the forum members were at INEC headquarters to facilitate the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) and proposals made during the meeting between the two electoral bodies held on Feb. 21, 2018.
Akomas, who is the chairman of Abia SIEC, commended INEC for the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections and his interest in the development of SIEC.