By Miracle Enuji
The Delta State House of Assembly on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 received a directive from the state government to repeal the existing law governing the administration of the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC).
This was contained in an executive bill sent to the House and signed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa directing that it to carry out amendments of some sections of the DSIEC law as signed into law in 2012 and for other matters connected thereto.
Governor Okowa in the message said, “I wish to forward herewith a draft executive bill tilted DELTA STATE ELECTORAL LAW 2017 for your kind consideration and passage. The bill seeks to repeal the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission Law 2012, repeal some aspects of the Delta State Local Government Law 2013 and reenact the Delta State Independent Electoral Commission Law 2017.”
The amendment sought by the Delta State Government is coming barely two months to the expiration of the current tenure of the Local Government Council Chairmen in the state.
Speaking recently to Asaba Metro in reaction to the possibility of the state Governor truncating the forthcoming LGA elections and the usual style of imposing caretaker committee chairmen for the councils, a local government council chairman who pleaded anonymity stated that the tenure of council chairmen which is not stated in the constitution of Nigeria, is currently being structured by the State House of Assembly, which has the power to legislate on the structure and administration of local governments.
In his words, “So where the constitution says local government is recognized and it has to be democratic and elected so to say, there is no defined tenure, there is no defined offices. So the House of Assembly is to legislate for the local government. The House of Assembly can legislate for transition, can legislate for caretaker and the whatever way they deem fit.”
“Caretaker committee is unconstitutional, is undemocratic, but it is legal. Undemocratic because that is not the constitution says, unconstitutional that is not what the constitution says but legal because the authority that is given power to legislate which is the House of Assembly, has so legislated it,” the council chairman submitted.
Meanwhile, DSIEC Chairman, Mr Moses Ogbe had in July this year told journalists that an election timetable for the conduct of local councils’ election shall soon be released.
He said that the Commission had gone round the state, assessed the facilities for the conduct of the polls and that government was very willing to fund the conduct of the local polls because of its critical democratic importance.
The DSIEC boss observed that the Commission was conscious of anxiety of politicians and political parties for the elections, promising that the electoral body will not disappoint them as the elections will be conducted in the nearest future. He appealed to politicians to be patient and not to jump the gun, saying “we are coming out very soon with the election timetable.
However, in recent times, opposition parties in the state have declared their fears for DSIEC alleging that the present PDP government has mapped out plans to influence the decisions of the state controlled electoral body in the forthcoming LGA elections and foreseen imposition of caretaker chairmen on Deltans.
Efforts by newsmen to peruse through the forwarded copies of the proposed DSIEC and Local government executive bill as at the time of this publication proved abortive.