Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Thursday called for financial autonomy for the 36 states independent electoral bodies, stating that independent financial protections will enhance their performance.
He also called for the streamlining and review of electoral laws to increase the credibility of local government elections.
Yakubu told members of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON), who visited him in Abuja that the two issues of financial autonomy and electoral law reform critical to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections at the local government level, needed to be seriously considered.
According to the INEC chairman, there have 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.
He explained that while there was law establishing SIEC and its composition, each state has it procedures, regulations and guidelines for the conduct of local government elections.
Yakubu said: “We need modern law to guide the conduct of local government elections in the country that draws to a considerable extent from the national electoral legal framework.
“The second issue we need to work together is the independence of SEIC. 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 pledged the continuous partnership of INEC with the forum to ensure the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria.
According to him, the relationship between INEC and SIEC should be organic as the two electoral bodies were created by the constitution.
He added that while INEC was created to conduct elections for the federal, state and FCT elective positions, SIEC was in charge of local government elections.
He said though INEC was not involved in the conduct of local government elections, the commission had been a partner with SIEC in several ways, including the provision of register of voters and voting cubicles for the conduct of such elections.
He stressed the need for continuous interaction between the two electoral bodies, saying that when they met in February 2018, they discussed the need for regular interaction and other critical issues that must be acted upon.
“We discussed the need for resuscitation and reconstitution of our interactive committee so that we can continue to interact in a deeper way.
“We need to do this as soon as possible to enable the committee to resume work, review and strengthen our Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and to plan our joint conference, which is proposed to take place in the first quarter of 2020,’’ he stated.
Earlier, FOSIECON Chairman, Justice Igbozuruike Akomas, said they were at INEC headquarters to facilitate the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and proposals made during last year’s meeting between the two electoral bodies.
Akomas, who is also the Chairman of Abia State SIEC, commended Yakubu for the successful conduct of the 2019 general election and his interest in the development of SIECs.