By ‘Seun Ibukun-Oni
The House of Representatives has passed a resolution asking the Independent National Electoral Commission to review the status of the 360 federal constituencies in the country in order to determine the changes in size or population growth over the years.
The House said this was a constitutional requirement under sections 71 and 73 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to reflect any such changes by delineating the constituencies.
The Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, who moved a motion of urgent public importance to raise the issue, stated that the last time INEC delineated constituencies in the country was over 22 years ago.
Specifically referring to Section 73, Elumelu argued that a review of the federal constituencies was overdue, taken that the constitution made a provision that it should be conducted every 10 years.
“Mr Speaker, this is a constitutional issue; we call on INEC to comply with this provision by reviewing the constituencies”, he added.
The Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, presided over the plenary.
Elumelu’s motion reads, “The House Notes that section 71(b) of the 1999 constitution as amended empowers the independent national electoral commission (INEC) to divide the federation into three hundred and sixty federal constituencies for the purpose of elections into the House of Representatives.
“Further Note that section 73(1) expressly directed that the independent national electoral commission shall review the division of states of the federation into federal constituencies at intervals of not less than 10yrs, and may alter the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this section to such extent as it may consider desirable in the light of the review.
“Aware that section 49 provides that the House of Representatives shall consist of 360 members representing 360 constituencies of nearly equal population as far as possible, provided that no constituency shall fall within more than one state.
“Further Aware that since the commencement of the 4th republic till date, INEC has not deemed necessary the compliance of the above section 73(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended thereby depriving citizens of bloated federal constituencies adequate attention.
“Worried that though the constitution provides a 10yr time frame for constituency reviews, INEC has not done any known review in the last 22yrs of the current democratic dispensation, hence the urgent need to call on INEC to be alive to her responsibilities.
“Further worried that the reality on the ground today, whereby some federal constituencies are twice the size of others in both size and population, is at variance with the letters and dictates of the 1999 constitution. This is so because INEC has failed to live up to its responsibilities, hence the need to urgently rectify this abnormally for the sake of equitable representation.
“Concerned that to guarantee effective, quality and adequate representation in the House of representatives, INEC should without delay delimit the constituencies and carve out new federal constituencies especially in constituencies covering four local government areas.
“Further concerned that the continuous failure for INEC to live up to its responsibilities in reviewing the division of states into federal constituencies does not only portray INEC in a bad light but the entire government institution including the national assembly for also failing to call her to order and invoking adequate sanctions where necessary hence the need for this motion.”
Elumelu made a case specifically for “Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in Delta State, which has 4 Local government areas and one of the largest federal constituencies in both population and landmass in the entire nation by splitting it into Aniocha North/Aniocha South Federal Constituency and Oshimili North/Oshimili South Federal Constituency and Iseyin/Kajola/Iwajowa/Itesiwaju in Oyo State with 4 local government areas into Iseyin/Kajola Federal Constituency and Iwajowa/Itesiwaju Federal Constituency.”