By Fred Itua, Abuja
Four months after three serving senators vacated their seats, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), headed by Professor Yakubu Mahmood, is yet to conduct by-elections.
While two of the senators emerged as national and deputy national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) respectively, the other was named deputy governor of Zamfara State.
INEC’s alleged delay and purported refusal, is reportedly causing ripples in the National Assembly and in their various Senatorial Districts where there are currently no representatives.
In late March, Senators Abdullahi Adamu and Abubakar Kyari emerged as the national chairman and deputy national chairman (North) of the ruling APC
Adamu and Kyari represented Nasarawa West and Borno North respectively until their resignation on April 12 to contest for other positions, one year to the end of the 9th National Assembly.
Similarly, Senator Muhammad Hassan Nasiha of the Zamfara Central Senatorial District, on March, 2022, vacated the Parliament after he was named as the deputy governor of Zamfara State, following the impeachment of Mahdi Aliyu-Gusau
Daily Sun has gathered that the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, has already communicated to INEC, declaring the three senatorial seats vacant.
In February, INEC conducted by-elections into vacant Nationaland State Houses of Assembly. Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the delay in the conduct of the by-election as political parties and constituents have challenged the electoral body.
Executive Director, HallowMace Foundation, a pro-parliamentary group, Sunny Anderson Osiebe, told Daily Sun that he had already written to INEC and other interested groups to conduct the by-elections.
He said: “The attention of Hallowmace Foundation has been drawn to the issue of vacancies, which have for some time now existed at the two Houses of the National Assembly and some State Assemblies as a result of deaths, resignations and sundry other factors and the urgent need to address what seemingly is an uncanny indifference on the part of INEC, the Electoral Management Body, to strive to fill the vacancies so created by such factors as identified earlier even with the tenure of the 9th Assembly subsisting till June next year.
“These past few months, our organisation, as a responsible Watchdog of the Legislature and a stakeholder Civil Society partner in our nation’s legislative business, has observed with serious dismay and concern that such vacancies that have occurred in no less a place than the National Assembly and some State Assemblies, where all Nigerians possess the right of representation, have been in many of the cases allowed to linger beyond the Constitutionally allowed threshold of sixty(60) days. As it now stands, all that concerns Constituencies without representation at the National Assembly and its State counterparts at present is allowed to stagnate without anyone promoting it.
“Without doubts, the current indifference or even perceived non-challance on the part of INEC, with regard to conducting elections to fill vacancies created in such Constituencies as we mentioned earlier in the National and State Assemblies at the moment, constitutes gross negligence and a direct violation of Section 76 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“While frowning at such affront against the laws of our land, Hallowmace Foundation, therefore, calls on the esteemed Chairman of INEC and its numerous collaborators in the business of conducting elections in Nigeria to, as a matter of urgent need, activate all necessary mechanisms aimed at conducting bye elections in Constituencies that have lost either their Senators or Members to death, appointment into other political positions or even resignation.
“The need for the above cannot be overemphasized. In the face of the present reality of non- representation for some Constituencies across the country at the National and State Assemblies, it is indicting negligence on INEC to stand aloof or claim ignorance of its Constitutional responsibility in this regard, especially, when considered against the backdrop that the current Assembly still has almost one year to wind up its tenure. This complete shirk in the responsibility of the INEC seems to be nothing other than a calculated attempt to willfully deny a section of the populace their right to effective representation for whatever reason.
“This piece is, therefore, a strident and clarion call on the Electoral Management Body to rise up and do the needful, knowing full well that in this case, time is of the essence, too, for such affected Constituencies without a current voice at the National and State Assemblies.
“While thanking the Chairman for your envisaged kind and timely action in the bid to continue to deepen our democratic process and provide the much-needed representation to the people.”
In Borno North, Bukar Saina Mohammed from Monguno LGA said the resignation would enable the senatorial district to have a performing lawmaker.
He described Kyari’s resignation from the Senate as an easy exit to avert humiliating defeat in 2023 for his poor performance in representing the people of Northern Borno.
In the same vein, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Borno State, Alhaji Auwal Hamza, said they are also waiting for INEC to fix the date for the by-election.
In Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, constituents have expressed displeasure over the delay in conducting the exercise.
A resident, Aliyu Usman told one of our correspondents that the electoral body should hasten up the conduct of the by-election.
“We are missing a lot in terms of representation. The reason why I said so is that those constituencies with representations are still benefiting a lot, especially in terms of constituency projects but we are missing out.
“Everything has stopped because we have no representative, therefore, we are appealing to the electoral body to conduct the election,” Usman said.
Another constituent, Musa Haruna, said the delay is causing apprehension in the senatorial district. He said with the conclusion of the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, INEC has no excuse not to conduct the by-election.
“Now that the Ekiti and Osun elections are over, INEC should please conduct a by-election for Zamfara Central so that we can have someone that will be raising issues affecting our area, especially the problem of insecurity,” he said.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Zamfara State, Professor Saidu Babura, said the delay was due to the insecurity challenges.
“We will conduct the by-elections any time the security situation improves. So, there is no cause for alarm regarding the by-elections in the constituencies,” he said.