…Says INEC Must Obey The Constitution
The House of Representatives on Wednesday asked the federal government to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately comply with the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended by creating additional Federal Constituencies in the country.
This followed a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) accusing the INEC of failing to comply with the provisions of the constitution which provided for a review of existing federal constituencies after every 10 years.
The House also asked the Commission to consider creating new constituencies in areas where more than two local governments currently constitute a federal constituency in the spirit of fair and equal representation as envisaged by the constitution.
According to the House resolution, “INEC should take into consideration Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in Delta state which has 4 Local government areas and one of the largest federal constituencies in both population and land mass in the entire Nation by splitting it into Aniocha north/Aniocha south federal constituency and Oshimili north/Oshimili south federal constituency and Iseyin/Kajola/Iwajowa/Itesiwaju in Oyo state with 4 local government areas into Iseyin/Kajola federal constituency and Iwajowa/Itesiwaju federal constituency.”
Justifying reasons for the motion, Elumelu who is also the Minority Leader of the House said section 71(b) of the 1999 constitution as amended empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to divide the federation into three hundred and sixty federal constituencies for the purpose of elections into the House of Representatives, while section 73(1) expressly directed INEC to review the division of states of the federation into federal constituencies at intervals of not less than 10 years.
He said the law allowed the commission to alter the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of the law to such extent as it may consider desirable in the light of the review.
He said further that section 49 provides that the House of Representatives shall consist of 360 members representing 360 constituency of nearly equal population as far as possible, provided that no constituency shall fall within more than one state.
According to him, since the commencement of the 4th republic, INEC has failed to comply with the provisions of the constitution thereby depriving citizens of bloated federal constituencies’ adequate attention.
He argued that even though the constitution provides a 10yr time frame for constituency reviews, INEC has not done any known review in the last 22yrs of the current democratic dispensation, hence the urgent need to call on INEC to be alive to her responsibilities.
Elumelu House maintained that “the reality on ground today whereby some federal constituencies are twice the size of others in both size and population is at variance with the letters and dictates of the 1999 constitution. This is so, because INEC has failed to live up to its responsibilities, hence the need to urgently rectify this abnormally for the sake of equitable representation.
“To guarantee effective, quality and adequate representation in the House of Representatives, INEC should without delay delimit the constituencies and carve out new federal constituencies especially in constituencies covering four local government areas.
“The continuous failure for INEC to live up to its responsibilities in reviewing the division of states into federal constituencies does not only portray INEC in a bad light, but the entire government institution including the National Assembly for also failing to call her to order and invoking adequate sanctions where necessary hence the need for this motion.
Responding to questions, Elumelu said “will you say because of education is expensive, you will not educate your children? What you do is to find out the cost first. They should find out the cost and then come to us.
“The law says they should review. They can review it downward based on information available to them or they can review it upward. What we are saying is that they have not complied with the provisions of the constitution. We want them to comply with it, after which, they can come back to us.
“When that law was made putting the number of federal constituencies at 360, Nigerian population was not up to 200 million. Today, we are over 200 million people and the constitution says there should be equal representation.
“There are places where it is one local government to a federal constituency. In some places, there are two federal constituencies in one local government. But in some other place, you have three or more local government. That is not fair and equal representation.”
Reacting to an earlier claim by the INEC Chairman that the Commission can only create more constituencies after the National Assembly has done its own part and amend the constitution, Elumelu said “it is a constitutional matter. INEC has to do its part and then approach the National Assembly.
“It is only when they have done what the constitution asked them to do that they can now approach the constitution review committee. But the constitution review committee cannot initiate that on its own because the constitution says it is INEC that has to do that and not the National Assembly.”
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