The Niger state House of Assembly has directed the Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and the state Independent Electoral Commission (NSIEC) to suspend tthe local government elections slated for November 5th, 2022 due to the current security challenges ravaging parts of the state.
The Assembly said the move is not only dangerous, but very insensitive to the current situation in the state where about 12 out of the 25 local government areas remain under the control of bandits and other terrorists.
Recalled that State Independent electoral Commission had last week announced timetable for the local government elections whicn is to hold across the 25 local government areas of the state, beginning with the primary elections expected to hold from 20th to 27th August.
According to the timetable, the main election to elect the 25 local government council .Chairman and the 227 wards counsellors was scheduled to hold on the 5th of November 2022.
However, the assembly observed that aside the security challenges, the scheduled timetable is contrary to the extant local government elections law which gives 180 days from the conduct of the primaries before the main election.
The lawmakers are particularly worried that it is also impossible to hold campaigns and elections at this critical period when the state is facing severe insecurity challenge with over 126 wards out of the 227 a no-go-areas due to bandits activities.
In a motion for the suspension of the local government elections raised under matters of public importance by the Member representing Bosso Consitutency, Honorable Madaki Malik Bosso during the plenary on Tuesday, said that, “The Niger State Independent Electoral Commission (NSINEC) recently published a timetable for the conduct of Local Government Council election in the State; it is aware that in the said timetable, the State INEC scheduled parties primary election between 20-27 August, 2022, while the general election is to hold on the 5th of November, 2022. Between 27 day of August, 2022 and 5th November, 2022 is approximately 39 days between the date of primary election and the general election which is less than 180-days provided by Law”.
According to him, “We should be informed that the extent Laws which provides for the conduct of Council Election in Niger State as provided in Section 20 of the Niger State Council Election Law (2002) are the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Niger State Local Government (Council Election) Law 2002, the Niger State Local Government Law (2001)”, he argued.
Also the member representing Suleja Constituency, Honorable Shuiabu Liman Iya stated that it will be Insensitive on the part of the government if it decides to go ahead with the elections considering that several people across the state are affected by the insecurity.
He pointed out that “We are in a very challenging period. Apart from the exant laws, as representatives of the people, we know that holding elections this period will send wrong signals to the people that we do not care about their plight.
“Let us look at the state of the Niger state environment in terms of security, are we thinking of the security of the lives and properties of the people? Or are we thinking of holding a local government election in this period. It is not the right atmosphere for us to contemplate holding an election that involves the real grassroot citizens of this state.
“Most of the places where the elections would be held, the citizens are compromised and have many challenges that I am not sure the government can approach them for campaigns or electiosns.”
The Member representing Bida 2, Honorable Bako Kasssim Alfa expressed fears that the conduct of the local government elections at this time, may affect the chances of the party and it candidates, and even during the general elections more so that the reconciliation moves in the party is still ongoing, therefore holding any election may be disastrous for the APC in the state
“I forsee a danger if we are to go ahead with the scheduled timetable for the local government elections, if we are mot careful. It will affected our partici[pation at the general election. We are just getting over friom the criris we had at the localgovernment where reconciliation is still ongoing. Sincerely speaking, if we are to conduct another one, it will be a problem for us.”
After taking submissions from members, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Honorable Abdullahi Bawa Wuse urged the state government to direct the state INEC to suspend the scheduled timetable and comply with Section 20 of the local government law and section 29(1) of the 2022 Electoral Act.