Furore over Kwara bye-election


The yet to be conducted bye-election resulting from the last local government election has generated furore in the state amidst fears that the exercise may be the last council polls before the constitutional amendment that allows for the Independent National Electoral Commission to take over the exercise as proposed by the National Assembly. HEAD POLITICS MUMINI ABDULKAREEM writes on the issue.

Three months after the Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWSIEC) concluded the local governments elections in the state, there appears to be no end in sight to the uproar that has trailed the non-conduct of the bye-election in some wards across the state.
While announcing results of the exercise last year, KWSIEC under its former chairman, Dr Uthman AbdurRahman Ajidagba, declared that the candidates of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the entire 16 chairmanship seats and 181 councillorship seats while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emerged winners in eight other places for councillors.
The opposition party, he noted won two councillorship seats each in Ilorin East, West (Kwara Central), three in Oke-Ero (Kwara South) and one in Edu (Kwara North), adding that four councillorship seats were inconclusive in Ilorin West, Moro and Edu Local Government Areas.
Ajidagba, while speaking further on the exercise, stated that despite the insinuations, name calling and blackmail, the commission has conducted a credible exercise, adding that he made personal efforts to reach the opposition parties chairmen, especially PDP’s Iyiola Oyedepo but could not get him on phone before the process started at the commission’s headquarters.
He thanked people of the state for their peaceful conduct and orderliness during the election, including security operatives and journalists for their cooperation which he noted contributed immensely to the success of the poll.
Since that announcement till date, discordant tunes and reactions have continued to trail the inaction of the commission to fix date for the conduct of the bye-election in the affected four  areas that were declared inconclusive by KWSIEC.
The PDP chairmanship candidate in the November poll, Comrade Musbaudeen Esinrogunjo has threatened to embark on mass protest if the bye-election is not conducted in Adewole ward, Ilorin West Local Government and other places where the results were declared inconclusive in the state.
While speaking with Pilot Politics, Esinrogunjo insisted that election at Adewole ward was inconclusive, beckoning on the Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWSIEC) to do the needful by conducting the election.
According to him, “If the KWASIEC fail to do the needful as stipulated by the Electoral Act that stated that bye-elections should be conducted two weeks after an inconclusive election, he is going to lead a massive protest in the state to showcase the party’s displeasure at the violation of the Electoral Act.
He alleged that during the election, the APC led with just 1000 votes and about 15,300 voters in Adewole ward were yet to vote.
“The KWSIEC official said Adewole election is inconclusive, and the electoral law says in such instance, a bye election should be conducted two weeks after the election”, so why the delay? He asked.
He said he had requested the court to invalidate his opponent in the race announced as the winner by the commission.
Esinrogunjo had petitioned the Commissioner of Police in the state over the issue
In a letter to the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Lawan Ado, Esinrogunjo noted that “the electoral umpire deliberately refused to conduct election in all the 17 Polling Units in Adewole Ward”, adding that “KWSIEC is planning to re-conduct election in only three (3) selected units out of 17”.
He had appealed to the CP to in the spirit of “fairness, equity and social justice, as a matter of urgency, stop the purported election and called for the exercise to be held in all the 17 polling units where election did not hold so that the commission will not “deliberately disenfranchise our people from exercising their franchise in line with international best practices”.
While the decision of the court is being awaited on the issue, his counterpart in the race and incumbent chairman of the council, Hajia Aminat Aromoke Omodara, speaking on the issue with Pilot Politics, said she does not want to join issues with anybody on the matter, adding that KWSIEC is the one saddled with the responsibility to handle the issue.
She noted that the party is ready anytime the commission comes with the schedule to go out and vote as required by law.
But is the commission reportedly buying time as alleged by the opposition and for what? What does the law governing the poll says on the matter?
Reacting to the issue in a telephone chat, Ajidagba said KWSIEC is yet to decide on the issue, adding that the commission will make such arrangement public by the time it was ready.
“We have not decided on the conduct of the bye-election for the last local government election in the state. When we are ready, we will let you know; adding that the commission did not break, and is not breaking any law.
But a source at the commission informed this medium that KWSIEC will meet with relevant stakeholders among the political parties to intimate them on plans for the exercise.
He added that KWSIEC cannot take unilateral decision on the issue without involving the state government.
“How can we fix the date for the bye-election without the consent of the government that will provide the necessary funding and logistics to conduct the exercise in the first place?
“So there is no iota of truth in the false alarm being raised by the opposition party regarding the issue. We must carry everybody along”, the source added.
As all these play out, there seems to be another round of uncertainty trailing the commission over its continued existence.
KWSIEC, just like other state electoral bodies, has come under public scrutiny lately following decision of the members of the National Assembly to take away council elections from the purview of state electoral commissions across the country.
Some pundit have argued that this is indeed uncertain times and with the narrative that has further included the question of whether the 2017 local government election held last November was the last under the Present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari by state commissions across the country.
The argument arises from the decision of the senate to allow INEC to henceforth conduct the exercise and with the proposal that local governments that do not have elected council chairmen should not have allocation.
According to the Senate last year, in its constitutional amendment on the issue, INEC should conduct local government elections.
Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial district, while speaking on grey areas of the report, emphasised that autonomy of local governments was sacrosanct, canvassing that there could only be fairness, if elections into councils were handled by INEC.
“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, it was obvious that at the state level, governors sit down in the comfort of their offices to appoint local government Chairmen and so there was no fairness. I am glad that past governors who are here have supported this suggestion, I therefore, asked that the amendment be carried,” Melaye said.
Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, through a voice vote upheld that the responsibility of conducting local government elections be taken away from the state and given to Independent National Electoral Commission.
If the amendment scale through in the ongoing process with the required 2/3 of the state assemblies and assented to by the president, pundits believed it will be considered a major victory for credibility and accountability at the third tiers of government but definitely its not without its challenges.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button