Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to activate the process of delineation of federal constituencies in accordance with provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Speaking in an interview with NIGERIA NOW magazine, Dogara however suggested that the exercise will have to wait till 2019 elections to avoid a situation where sitting elected lawmakers may be displaced.The Speaker noted that there have been clamours for more constituencies in view of rising population and other factors, and urged INEC to muster the political will to conduct the exercise in accordance with law.
“The delineation is the responsibility of INEC, I don’t know why they are not doing it, it’s not the responsibility of the National Assembly. So they will need to muster a lot of political will, as a matter of fact, there were even a lot of constituencies, state constituencies really, not federal, that were merged without reason. It’s been the basis of clamour, some have even gone to court and won the cases that they should restore those constituencies.”
“For example, a constituency in Benue State and my constituency were even affected. In Tafawa Balewa, we used to have a member representing Bula in the House and Lere, but Bula and Lere were merged, so it’s one of them. INEC has even submitted the report to us that these were the constituencies that were merged and the Supreme Court has said go and demerge them, but up till now it’s not been done.
“Now I understand having had preliminary discussions with the authorities that there may be some kind of reasons because if you now say you are demerging them right now, those who have won elections in those constituencies, it will amount to annulling those elections, they would have to conduct fresh elections in those constituencies. So the commitment is that they may do that, but it would be in the 2019 general elections, they may introduce the elections in those places.”
The Speaker hinted that the House Committee on Electoral Matters may take up the issue of delineation of constituencies.
Dogara maintained that since 1999, most constituencies have had their population tripled or quadrupled which is a major prerequisite for delineation to take place. He stated that ordinarily, a federal constituency is supposed to constitute about 300,000 but some constituencies presently consist of 800,000 or more people.