By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Nurudeen Alao, has called for massive enlightenment campaign on the proposed delimitation of constituencies by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of 2015 general elections.
Speaking at the 8th Lecture of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Alao, who was the Guest Lecturer, argued that the Commission must also engage the various communities concerned by making them drive the process.
This, he said, would be achieved by giving the communities the opportunity to make inputs before final decisions were taken on the delimitation exercise.
In carrying out the exercise, the Professor of Geography noted that INEC should encourage and respect the country’s natural geographical features and barriers, adding that since delimitation has constitutional backing, INEC is empowered to embark on it every 10 years.
He expressed optimism that the decision of INEC to partner with the office of the Surveyor General of the federation would facilitate the resolution of boundary disputes and pave way for a smooth exercise.
He listed eight universally acknowledged criteria for evaluating electoral districts and urged INEC to operate within them.
Some of them include: Constitutional criteria which stipulated the basic goal of equality of population, Chorological mandate that deals with structural compactness and nearness of electoral districts and geopolitical criterion that harps on the importance of marrying district boundaries with political boundaries to ensure effective representation.
Alao also identified delimitation of constituencies as an integral part of the democratization process, noting that balancing the population of constituencies and senatorial zones was not only constitutional but democratic.
He contended, however, that there are challenges militating against delimitation given Nigeria’s cultural diversity, even as he said a reliable demographic census was very key in the delimitation of electoral districts.