By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has assured Nigerians that the National Assembly will work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in its bid to properly delineate electoral constituencies across the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Lawan gave the assurance on Thursday when a delegation from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, paid a visit to his office in Abuja.
The last exercise which witnessed the creation of electoral districts and constituencies across the country was carried out twenty-five years ago in 1996.
The Senate President, in his remarks during the visit, said the delineation of electoral constituencies in the country would enhance democracy as well as provide equitable and fair representation in Nigeria’s governance structure.
He explained further that having more districts and constituencies would present a level playing field for all Nigerians to elect leaders of their choice at the polls.
He underscored the need for the federal government to find a way around getting accurate information about country’s population size, stressing that such information is significant and critical for the creation of more constituencies in disadvantaged areas.
He said, “The issue of delineation or creation of more electoral constituencies is like the previous one on the polling units.
“But unlike the polling units, this is going to be more difficult because you need more information, especially on the population.
“And because we didn’t have census after the 2006 exercise, now we have to find a way of getting information about our population size because that is very important and significant in taking any decision in that respect.
“But I want to assure you and Nigerians, that we will go all the way with you, to finding solutions on getting the delineation of electoral constituencies done before the end of our tenure.
“It is not going to be easy by no means, but we sit here as parliamentarians to deal with the issues of developing Nigeria and, of course, elections determine a lot of things in this country and, indeed, in any country.
“This is one way of giving Nigerians the opportunity to vote for their leaders and we cannot joke with that. We are all products of elections.
“If the delineation of constituencies – whether state or national – will give Nigerians better opportunities and enhance our democracy, and I’m sure it would, we must work hard to do that. So, we would work with you in INEC.”
The Senate President stated that the exercise for the creation of electoral constituencies had become imperative, particularly against the backdrop of resolving conflicts arising from court verdicts and the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended.
He queried, “are we going to respect what the constitution provides for, or discount constitutional provision and respect what the courts would ask INEC to do?
“We have to settle that, even for the sake of protecting you and going extremely legal, so that we don’t create difficulties going forward.
“But we must resolve this, because it is time, since 1996 when the current electoral districts and constituencies were created, there was no such exercise.
“I will not blame the former National Assembly sessions for not considering the request from INEC, because this is really a difficult call to make, but we sit here with hope and determination to deal with these issues no matter how difficult they will be.
“Even in the National Assembly, I’m sure when it is brought before the chambers, it will require a lot of horse trading and, of course, consultations, give-and-take, but that is what politics is all about.
“And we have to be patriotic enough to look at the need and necessity for giving people who are suppressed.
“Because if you have constituencies that are suppressed or that should have existed but for one reason or the other are not there anymore, it means the environment is not the kind of ideal environment where the representation will be fair and equitable.
“I want to assure Nigerians that, indeed, the Senate and National Assembly will work with INEC assiduously to attend and address these issues, so that if we are able to create the new constituencies, there will be elections in those constituencies with other areas that are already there y 2023.”
Speaking earlier, Professor Mahmood Yakubu said the delineation of constituencies requires an Act of the National Assembly, adding that, “the major consideration for revision of the country into constituencies is the population quota.”
“The National Assembly has powers under the constitution to actually request INEC to delineate constituencies by an Act of the Assembly.
“No Act of the National Assembly has asked INEC to delineate constituencies since the last delineation in 1996”, Yakubu revealed.