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Group says battle for resource control affects transparent elections



The Partners for Electoral Reforms (PER), an NGO, has identified the struggle for resource control as bane of transparent local government council elections in most states of the country.

The Chairman of the NGO, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

The NGO said that the existence of the State/Local Government Joint account was largely responsible for the conduct of unacceptable polls.

Nwagwu said that the quest for the control of the local government resources by governors had remained a major factor militating against conducting free, fair and credible election in many states of the federation.

He said that the survival of the country’s democracy and development largely depended on the efficiency and effectiveness of the local government system in the country.

“So long as State/Local Government Join Account continues to exist, governors will keep on manipulating local government election to ensure that their stooges have control of the councils,” Nwagwu said.

He said that the existing local government system could not satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of the grassroots, as the finances of this tier go into joint accounts.

According to him, the process of appointment of chairmen of state electoral commissions should be handled by a neutral body, instead of being appointed by the governors.

Nwagwu said: “When partisan politicians are being appointed to head state INEC, it will be difficult to have an election that can be seen  as credible and transparent in local government.”

Also speaking to NAN, the Deputy General Secretary, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Mr Asuzu Echezona, suggested that SIECs should be restructured to be a department under INEC.

Echezona urged SIECs to live up to their responsibilities as election management bodies by conducting transparent local government election that would enhance citizen’s confidence on the commission.

He said that the financial autonomy for local government councils was the only way to ensuring credible election at the grassroots.

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