Akin Akande, Abuja
The Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Attahiru Jega has disclosed that the nation has no clearly delineated constituencies.
This was as he said that the Commission has commenced preparations for delimitation of constituencies in the country.
Professor Jega has therefore called for a strategic partnership from the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), which according to him has authentic resources to assist INEC in the delimitation exercise.
He explained that NIPOST has relevant and useful demographic information about villages, communities and roads, which would enable the Commission, conduct a successful delimitation of all the constituencies in the country.
The INEC Chairman said the nation does not have clearly delineated constituencies or boundaries as well Senatorial districts noting that what it has over the years are collections descriptions which according to him is are not up to international minimum standard.
A delimitation exercise was done last in the country in 1991 under a military government, whereas the Constitution empowers INEC to review the exercise every ten years.
While speaking at the NIPOST headquarters in Abuja at the weekend, Professor Jega noted that no successful delimitation has been carried out in the country under a democratic government stating that the current constituencies delimitation is a product of military governments.
Represented by INEC’s Commissioner for Electoral Operations, Engineer Nuru Yakubu, the INEC Chairman said the planned delimitation exercise is one that would help deepen the nation’s democracy.
His words: “We need NIPOST as a strategic partner in this endeavor. We have to come and solicit for NIPOST support. NIPOST has the most authentic database of societies and communities in the country.
We have identified NIPOST as a strategic partner in this collaboration towards the delimitation project. The Commission is obliged by the Constitution to at least every ten years to reconsider the delimitation exercise in order to ensure that there is effective and balance in terms of representation of members of National Assembly, the Senate as well as members of state house of assembly.
NIPOST has huge resources as we have learnt today in terms of communities, their locations, roads, streets even what we don’t know the Postmaster General has told us we have post code for every location in the country. Basically, it is to solicit the support of NIPOST to share these vast resources with us.
The exercise will involve our staff going out to the localities to identify and delineate boundaries and collect special data that will now go to prepare for the delineation of the constituencies, which we don’t have at the moment.
We do not have clearly delineated constituencies in the country certainly not even what we call representation areas or the wards.
The next stage would be once we are able to do this we have identified other strategic partners such as the National Population Commission, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, National Boundary Commission and National Border Community Authority. The Commission will be paying them this courtesy visit to solicit their support as strategic partners.
It is unfortunate that the current structures of constituencies that we have in the country are based on 1991 census and it was done under a military government.
After 14 years of democracy and census in 2006, it is high time we reviewed this structure to make it more equitable so that a voter in Maiduguri his vote will carry as much weight as possible as a voter in Lagos, Sokoto, Enugu or in Port Harcourt.
This is part of the process of deepening our democracy. The Commission has identified about six or seven strategic partners and we are going out to seek their support.”
He added that INEC would conduct consultations, public hearings as well as collect submissions and memorandum from communities in all the 109 Senatorial Districts before the real exercise and presentation to the National Assembly for passage into law.
While responding, the Postmaster General of the Federation, Ibrahim Mori Baba expressed NIPOST willingness to partner with INEC.
He said that NIPOST was interested in using all its resources to see to the success of the delimitation exercise by INEC even as he commended the Commission for finding NIPOST as a strategic partner in the project.