Rivers Electoral Body Fixes LG Elections

…As INEC Lends Support

In a move to strengthen grassroots democracy, the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) has officially announced that local government elections will be held on October 5, 2024.

Chairman/Chief Electoral Commissioner, Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), Hon. Justice Adolphus Enebeli (Rtd) who disclosed this on the occasion of the formal unveiling of the guidelines and time-table of activities for the 2024 LGA Elections in Rivers State on Monday, said this decision comes after extensive consultations and meticulous preparations to ensure a free, fair, and credible electoral process across the state.

The RSIEC Chairman expressed his excitement about the upcoming elections, stating, “We are thrilled to announce the date for the highly anticipated local government elections in Rivers State.

Our team has worked tirelessly to ensure that all necessary measures are in place to guarantee a smooth and transparent electoral process.”

He said the upcoming elections will be conducted in all 23 local government areas of Rivers State, where voters will elect Chairpersons and Councilors responsible for local governance and development.

The RSIEC boss assured the public that comprehensive measures, including the deployment of security personnel and the provision of necessary materials and logistical support, have been put in place to ensure a peaceful and well-organized election.

One of the key highlights of the upcoming elections, according to the retired Justice, is the emphasis on voter participation.

To this end, RSIEC has intensified voter registration and education campaigns to encourage eligible citizens to actively participate in the election, with the goal of achieving high voter turnout and informed decision-making.

The political atmosphere in Rivers State is already charged with optimism and a competitive spirit as various political parties present their candidates for the different positions.

Elected officials will be responsible for administering local affairs, including infrastructure development, primary education, and healthcare services, making these elections crucial for grassroots democracy and development.

Retired Justice Enebeli added, “We are confident that the October 5 local government elections in Rivers State will be a pivotal event, shaping the future of local governance and driving sustainable development in the state.

We call upon all citizens to exercise their civic duty and participate in this democratic exercise.”

As the state prepares for this significant election, all eyes will be on Rivers as it takes a step forward in strengthening its local governance system and empowering its citizens at the grassroots level.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has stated that the commission has no constitutional power to conduct local council elections except in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He made this statement on the sidelines of a two-day induction retreat for INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), on Monday in Lagos.

Reacting to the agitation seeking constitutional backing for INEC to be saddled with the responsibility of conducting local council elections, Yakubu described it as ‘a constitutional matter’.

According to Yakubu, unless necessary constitutional amendments are made, the commission will only continue to organise national and state elections.

“The same section of the constitution that establishes INEC also establishes the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) and we cannot take over their duties.

“It is good for people to engage in advocacy for INEC to take charge of the whole elections, but the constitution has to be amended for that to happen.

“For now, INEC can only conduct the local government elections in the Federal Capital Territory with six area council chairmen and 62 councillors.

“And it is in the FCT that the conduct of council elections has been regular and we are proud that the conduct of the elections there has been done to the best of our capacity.

“So, we are encouraged by what we have done, but as for taking over the state elections, the constitution has to be amended, and we are not there yet,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some Nigerians are canvassing for the dissolution of the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) in the ongoing constitutional amendment, to pave way for INEC to take charge of local government elections.

The prooponents believe that state governors were hijacking local councils’ allocation due to irregularities in the conduct of the LG polls.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had in March this year called for the scrapping of SIECs. Fagbemi said that SIEC’s function should be transferred to INEC, to ensure independence and transparency in the outcome of local government elections in the country.

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