Don’t scrap state electoral commissions – Yiaga Africa tells NASS

by vyozella510681

Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation, has urged the National Assembly to look into the constitutional gaps that undermine State Independent Electoral Commissions in Nigeria rather than scrapping them.

Sampson Itodo, the executive director of Yiaga Africa, made the call in Uyo, during an advocacy visit to the chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission, AKISIEC, Aniedi Ikoiwak, over the weekend.

Itodo, who noted that scraping SIEC would impede local democracy, said the National Assembly should review the part of the constitution that enables governors to unilaterally and arbitrarily dissolve democratically elected local councils or gives them leeway to withhold funding from SIECs.

He, however, advocated for total independence and funding of the State Electoral Commission, even as he challenged them on the need to demonstrate resilience and ability to withstand the pressure that may come from external forces to erode the election.

He also urged SIEC to consider the integrity of the ad hoc staff recruited for the election, saying that they should be people who understand the electoral process and do not have any political leanings.

According to him: “If you look around the country, there is a clamour for the scrapping of SIECs because local government elections have been a charade and a mockery of our entire democratic system; all that is driven by several factors and the first is that the state electoral bodies are not independent, whether operational or financial independence.”

He stated that Yiaga Africa’s principle position is that “we are completely opposed to the scrapping of SIECS because we believe it will undermine local democracy and local government autonomy.”

He continued: “Yes, there are challenges, but it’s important for the National Assembly to look at the gaps in our constitution that make it possible for governors to unilaterally and arbitrarily dissolve democratically elected local councils or that give governors the leeway to withhold funding from state independent electoral commissions because when you do not have funding to conduct elections, it’s one way to manipulate an election.”

“Our advocacy is to continue to urge state assemblies and governors to provide the funding that is required to conduct elections because these elections give the citizens the opportunity to determine and make decisions at the local level.”

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