Political parties in Lagos differ on NASS’s move to scrap SIECs

Opposition party leaders in Lagos have thrown their weight behind the decision of the National Assembly to scrap the various States Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs).

Reacting to the development in separate interviews with our correspondent on Tuesday, the chairmen of Accord Party, Chief Gbenga Kool and his counterpart in the Alliance for Democracy, Mr. Kola Ajayi stated that the current arrangement is undemocratic.

Others who commented on the move include, the state secretary of the Labour Party, Mr Bolaji Oshinowo, Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, Mallam Shakirudeen Olofin.

Kool who stated that such elections be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) added that a situation where a party in government won all the seats in a local government election meant there was something wrong with the current system.

“We believe that the grassroots is the foundation of any democracy and that if democracy must be strengthened, it should start from there.

“However, a system where states conduct local government elections through their own electoral commissions is not good for grassroots democracy.

“What we see is that the party controlling the government sweeps all seats in local government elections and you ask yourself, how is that always possible?

“So, allowing INEC to conduct all elections will bring credibility to local government elections and deepen democracy at the grassroots,’’ he said.

Kool commended the Senate for its vote for the scrapping of state electoral commissions in the constitution amendment process.

He said that the vote of the House of Representatives against the scrapping of the SIECs would not help democracy at the grassroots.

Kool said the conduct of the July 22 council poll in Lagos State would have been better if conducted by INEC.

Speaking in the same vein, Ajayi said scrapping state electoral commissions would bring sanity to conduct of elections at the grassroots.

“I think scrapping of state electoral commissions would give equal opportunities to all political parties in grassroots elections and deepen democracy,’’ he said.

On his path, Oshinowo said state electoral commissions were always sympathetic to the ruling party in the conduct of local government elections.

He commended the Senate voting for the scrapping of state electoral commissions, saying the step would strengthen democracy.

Olofin however differs with the others, saying scrapping of state electoral commissions would not improve the credibility of elections at the grassroots.

“The problem to credible elections at the grassroots is not state electoral commissions; there are issues the National Assembly is not addressing.

“The INEC that the Senate is recommending, how independent is it? I think we should face the problems squarely rather than chase things that won’t make any difference,’’ he said.

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