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INEC Chairman Decries LG Elections As Mere Coronations, Calls For Urgent Reforms

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has raised significant concerns regarding the conduct of local government elections across Nigeria. 

During a courtesy call by the executive members of the Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions (FOSIECOM), Yakubu described these elections as mere coronations of ruling party candidates.

Prof. Yakubu criticised state governors for undermining the independence of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs). 

He pointed out that many SIECs lack the necessary infrastructure, permanent staff, and security of tenure required to conduct free and fair elections. 

“State governors should allow the SIECs to have greater capacity for independent action. 

Many of the SIECs have no functional offices in the Local Government Areas in their States and cannot recruit their permanent staff,” Yakubu stated.

The INEC chairman lamented that in some states, SIECs are only constituted shortly before elections and dissolved immediately afterward, with critical functions often taken over by government officials.

 This practice undermines the commissions’ ability to operate independently and effectively.

 Additionally, he highlighted the severe underfunding of SIECs, which forces them to rely on INEC for basic election materials such as ballot boxes and voting cubicles, leading to public confusion between INEC and SIECs.

Yakubu clarified the jurisdictional boundaries between INEC and SIECs, noting that while INEC is responsible for elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), SIECs manage elections for 768 Local Government Chairmen and 8,747 Councillors across the country. 

He pointed to the FCT elections conducted by INEC as a model for local government elections nationwide, citing secure tenures for elected officials, regular elections, and diverse electoral outcomes as benchmarks.

 He called on FOSIECOM to address the legal and financial challenges hindering their operations and to protect the integrity and credibility of elections with courage and determination. 

“The courage with which you discharge your obligation to protect the integrity and credibility of elections is the most important determinant of success,” he noted.

Given INEC’s extensive responsibilities and limited federal budget, Yakubu emphasized that INEC’s support to SIECs would primarily be restricted to providing the voters’ register as mandated by the Constitution. 

He reaffirmed INEC’s commitment to working with FOSIECOM to push the boundaries of electoral reform and improve the conduct of local government elections across Nigeria.

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