The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has instituted a committee saddled with the responsibility of carrying out a major redrawing of constituencies, which may affect representation in the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, has begun.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday inaugurated the committee to redelineate the constituencies nationwide.
The 17-man committee, headed by INEC chair Prof. Attahiru Jega, will review the existing constituencies and the allocation of seats.
It will also identify imbalances in the existing arrangement and correct them.
Apart from the Senate where representation is based on equality of three per state, the House of Representatives and Houses of Assemblies’ seats are allocated based on population.
They are likely to be affected at the end of the INEC programme, which must nevertheless be approved by the National Assembly.
Mr. Kayode Oladimeji is the secretary of the committee.
The review of the constituencies is coming 18 years after the last one carried out in 1996. The country has 388 constituencies and the law provides for a review every 10 years.
The committee, according to Jega, is to consider the composition and boundaries of existing constituencies, as well as allocation of seats, and identify imbalances where they exist.
Jega said the programme would help deal with the inequalities in the constituencies and bring about equity in the weight of representation and votes in the constituencies.
He said: “Ideally, the weight of representation should be as nearly equal as possible. For every representative should be as nearly equal the number of the population quota.
“Every Federal constituency should be as nearly equal in size of 388,000. That ensures that weight of a representative in the parliament is as nearly equal with other representatives.
“In Nigeria there are wide-ranging disparities. There are constituencies that are as small as 122,000 and some as large as 1.3million.
“These disparities have existed because of population movement or original inequalities in the creation of constituencies.”
The INEC chief went on: “We are obligated by the constitution to periodically review these constituencies so that we can bring equity in the weight of representations and votes in the constituencies.
“It is very important in deepening democracy and fairness in representations.
We are required to do it either after every population census or in at least 10 years.”
Inaugurating the committee, Jega said: “In the kind of democratic system that we operate, where constituencies are based on single-member representatives, it is necessary, as provided by the constitution, and in line with international best practice, that the various districts and constituencies should be reviewed periodically.”
“This ensures that representations based on constituencies keep apace with demographic changes in the country, thereby ensuring that the process is equitable.
“Unfortunately, however, we have never been able to undertake this periodic review, important as it is, not only because of our chequered political development, but partly also due to lack of sufficient critical data and expertise to allow for an open, equitable and transparent constituency review.”
Jega said the challenge is for members to be absolutely impartial and transparent.
He told members of the committee that the assignment has presented them the opportunity to be part of history.
Other terms of Reference of the Committee are to: .review previous reports on the review of electoral constituencies; establish the methodology for carrying out a review of existing constituencies; .and to develop the delimitation guidelines, taking into account the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), and international best practice.
The committee will also review the boundaries and composition of existing constituencies in line with the Constitution, the Electoral Act, and international best practice; and make appropriate recommendations to the Commission. It will set up any number of sub-committees that may be necessary in the discharge of the delimitation assignment; and consider other issues that may be useful to a successful constituency review.
Other members of the committee are: Dr. Nuru Yakubu, Mrs. Thelma Iremirem, Mrs. Amina Zakari, Dame Gladys Nne Nwafor, Dr. Chris Iyimoga, Prof. Lai Olurode, Surveyor General of the Federation, Director-General, National Space Research and Development Agency, Director-General, National Boundary Commission, Director-General, National Population Commission, Prof. M. Mamman (ABU, Zaria) Prof. Mustapha Duze (BUK, Kano), Mrs. P.C Onokala (UNN, Nsukka), Prof. S.I Okafor (University of Ibadan) and Dr. Lisa Handley (international consultant).
Via Daily Times