September 18, 2019

IPAC calls for national electoral reform confab

Residents of Okobaba protest demolition of their properties, demand compensation

…Says SIECs, joint account democratic fraud

By Chris Ochayi

The Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Thursday, called for convening of a national electoral reform conference to amend certain sections of the constitution in order to pave ways for comprehensive structuring of local government administration in Nigeria.

President of IPAC, High Chief Peter Ameh, who made the call while addressing newsmen shortly after the inaugural meeting of the 9th National Executive meeting of IPAC in Abuja, said the conference was imperative to rescue the local government system from the claws of the state governors.

Chief Ameh, particularly called for total scrapping of the States Independent Electoral Commission, SIEC, and join States and Local Government Account, which he said have rubbished the entire concept of local council administration in the country.

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According to him, “IPAC makes a bold declaration today and without mincing any words, that the State Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs are the greatest democratic fraud foisted on our electoral democracy.

“This is the major reason we stress that the conduct of Local Government Elections becomes the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

“This is because from the conduct of state elections by State Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs, thus far, it is impossible to get a free, fair and credible election under the existing arrangement.

“The current system encourages massive rigging because SIECs are under the wills and caprices of the State Governments and the Political Party in power in each State across Nigeria.

“As we have seen over the years, Parties that control each State will stop at nothing to tailor the results in their favour. The Opposition Party in the state is always left with nothing.”

Ameh, therefore recommended that, Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) relating to the place of Local Governments as the third tier of government should be amended to specifically guarantee the existence, establishment, structure, composition, finance, functions and tenure of Local Governments under the Constitution.

“Section 153, 197 and the Third Schedule to the Constitution should be amended to provide for the following re-designation and re-ordering of States Independent Electoral Commission”

On the abrogation of joint account, he said, “Section 162(5)-(7) of the Constitution should be amended to abolish the Joint State/Local Government Account.

And that “Section 162(5)-(7) of the Constitution should be further amended to provide that any amount standing to the credit of the Local Government Councils in the Federation Account should be paid directly to the various Local Governments.”

Chief Ameh, who was optimistic that recommended amendment will usher in national rebirth, growth and transformation, recalled that, “As we have seen over the years, political parties that control each State will stop at nothing to tailor the results in their favour.

“The Opposition Party in the state is always left with nothing. If Local authorities have autonomy and tenure guaranteed, it will be easy for the people to hold them accountable and this will in turn bring development closer to the people and thus make for a robust democracy.

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“What is going on presently at the Local Government level in Nigeria is a mockery of democracy, there is urgent need for all stakeholders to work together purposefully to establish the needed environment for good governance to grow and save our people from bad leadership.

“The State Independent Electoral Commission, SIEC, is the greatest electoral abracadabra, the more you see, the less you understand, imposed on our electoral democracy.

“And if by our insistence to rescue our people from this electoral rascality any State Governor feels aggrieved or seems to be more interested in funds meant for the Local Government Councils, let him resign and contest as LOCAL Government Chairman and he or she should rest, assured of our support.”