STAKEHOLDERS on elections and other related matters on Tuesday in Ilorin expressed divergent views on the proposed amendment of the 2023 Kwara Electoral Bill by the state’s House of Assembly.
The stakeholders expressed their views at the Public Hearing on the amendment of the Bill which passed its second reading at the State House of Assembly on Oct. 19.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Executive Bill was for the ”Law to Amend the Kwara State Local Government Electoral Law, To change the number of days for notice of Election and other Related Matters”.
The Bill, among other things, seeks to extend the period for the conduct of local government elections in the state from 90 days to 360 days.
Mr Lanre Osho, Deputy Coordinator, Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), urged the House to step down the passage of the proposed amendment of the Kwara Local Government Electoral Law.
”We pray that it reconsiders it at a future time after the Local Government elections must have been conducted by the Kwara State Independent Electoral Committee (KWSIEC) using the subsisting Law with the 90 days’ notice of election period.
”Or, for the House to pass the proposed amendment of the Kwara State LG Electoral Law, provided that the commencement date of the Law would be sometime in 2025 after the next LG elections.
”For clarity, if passed into Law, it should not affect the next LG elections, but should affect future elections after the anticipated election.
”The legislature has the power to set the commencement date of a law to a future date in the public interest,” Osho said.
Mr Abdullahi Abdulrouf from the Law Department of Al-Hikmah University said a critical look at the amendment shows an attempt to unnecessarily prolong local government elections in the state.
He said the present law was already in order and questioned why a longer period was needed for the conduct of local government elections.
”This is something which only concerns local governments and not the nation at large.”
Mr Ahmed Latif, the Chairman, Kwara Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said the Union aligned with the proposed amendment, but however has some reservations.
Latif said the number of days for the period of election should be brought down to 180 days.
”A 360-day extension from 90 days will rather needlessly prolong the conduct of the elections.
“This is because there has been a public yearning for local government elections in the state.
”It is an aberration to have Transition Implementation Committees (TICs) to continue with the administration of the local governments.”
Latif said if KWASIEC was serious about the conduct of the elections, 180 days was enough to work with.
The Kwara Publicity Secretary of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Olusegun Adewara, criticised the hastiness in the passage of the bill which was first presented to the House on Oct. 18.
He said it was surprising that such a sensitive bill would pass all the stages it passed through within nine working days.
Adewara urged the House to stay action on the bill and ensure proper consultation and submission from all stakeholders, as well as do due diligence on it.
For the Kwara Agenda representative, Yakub Kannike, prolonging local government elections in the state was like prolonging the evil day because council elections were last held in the state in 2017.
On their part, the Ministry of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Local Government Service Commission, KWASIEC and the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) all aligned with the bill’s amendment.
In their seperate submissions, they supported all sections labelled for amendment and said the extension of days was to ensure a level playing ground for all political parties.
Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Judiciary, Mr Ganiyu Salahu, said the essence of the public hearing was to allow all stakeholders express their views on the bill.
He said the suggestions of the stakeholders were like parameters to allow the legislators discharge their duties.
The Speaker, Mr Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, said the opinion of all stakeholders would be looked into and considered for action.(NAN)
October 31, 2023 @ 21:28 GMT|