There appears to be confusion as to whether it is the responsibility of the National Assembly or the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to review constituency delineation in the country.
While INEC said it cannot review the existing constituencies into the National Assembly unless there is a constitutional amendment by the legislature, the House of Representatives is insisting that the constitution empowers the electoral body to review the division of states of the federation into federal constituencies at intervals of not less than 10 years.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said while addressing the House Committee on Electoral Matters recently that there cannot be delimitation of constituencies unless there is constitutional amendment as the number of seats in both chambers of the National Assembly has been provided for in the constitution.
“The truth is that we can’t create additional constituencies because the number for the House of Representatives and the Senate is fixed in the Constitution. There are 360 constituencies. We can’t create one additional constituency and we can’t reduce,” Yakubu had said.
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“So the solution actually lies in the hands of Honourable Members. If you want additional constituencies to be created, the Constitution has to be amended to provide for the number of constituencies to be created.”
However, the House at plenary on Wednesday resolved that INEC should without further delay review constituency delineation as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended, hence the task lies with the Commission.
The House while adopting a motion of urgent public importance moved by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, mandated the House Committee on Electoral Matters to interface with the leadership of INEC and report back in six weeks.
It also resolved that in reviewing the constituencies, “INEC should take into consideration Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in Delta State which has four 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”.
Moving the motion, Elumelu noted that section 71(b) of the 1999 constitution as amended empowers INEC to divide the federation into 360 Federal Constituencies for the purpose of elections into the House of Representatives.
He also said section 73(1) expressly directed that INEC 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.