The House of Representatives yesterday mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to without delay embark on constituency delineation as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) with a view to creating more constituencies.
The House also mandated its committee on electoral matters to interface with the leadership of INEC and report back within six weeks.
The resolution of the green chamber is sequel to a motion of urgent national importance moved by the minority leader of the House, Hon Ndudi Elumelu during plenary.
INEC had recently told LEADERSHIP that altering of boundaries of constituencies or restoring what is presently referred to as suppressed constituencies is a constitutional matter, insisting that by section 115 of the Constitution, the boundary of any state constituency shall be corrected only after it has been approved by the National Assembly.
Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP in Abuja, the national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC) Festus Okoye, who insisted that such approval can only be done after the life of the current House of Assembly, however explained that the commission is addressing issues of “suppressed constituencies.”
But in his motion yesterday, Elumelu noted that it was the responsibility of INEC to initiate the process of creating more constituencies, according to section 71 of the 1999 Constitution.
He also noted that the population of Nigeria had increased over the years, adding that INEC has never complied with the constitutional provisions since 1999.
The lawmaker, however, noted that in reviewing constituency delineation, INEC should take into consideration Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in Delta State and Iseyin/Kajola/Iwajowa/Itesiwaju in Oyo State as they have four local government areas and form the largest federal constituencies in both population and landmass in the entire nation.
Specifically, Elumelu demanded that INEC should split his federal constituency into Aniocha North/Aniocha South federal constituency and Oshimili North/Oshimili South federal constituency.
He also asked the commission to split Iseyin/Kajola/Iwajowa/Itesiwaju in Oyo state with four local government areas into Iseyin/Kajola federal constituency and Iwajowa/Itesiwaju federal constituency.
The minority leader, in the motion, noted that section 71(b) of the constitution empowers INEC to divide the federation into 360 federal constituencies for elections into the House of Representatives.
He however said the section 73(1) expressly directed that the commission “shall review the division of states of the federation into federal constituencies at intervals of not less than 10years, 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.”
He also said 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.
He, however, expressed worry that some federal constituencies are twice the size of others in both size and population and are at variance with the letters and dictates of the 1999 constitution.
This, according to him, is because INEC has failed to live up to its responsibilities, hence the need to urgently rectify this abnormally for the sake of equitable representation.
…To Probe Missing $339m Crude Oil
Meanwhile, the green chamber also resolved yesterday to probe the missing crude oil worth $339 million connected to the allocation of crude oil under Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) from 2018 till date.
Specifically, the House resolved to set up an adhoc committee to probe the approximately 5.2 million barrels of crude valued at $65 per barrel supposedly allocated to comatose NNPC refineries in 2018 under Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) operations, but are allegedly unaccounted for.
The committee is to investigate crude oil allocation per refinery and the rationale for such allocation, at the same time determine what happens to the un-utilised stock of crude oil in the case of a refinery with inadequate production capacity.
The member representing Mallammadori/Kaugama federal constituency of Jigawa State, Makki Abubakar Yalleman in a motion of urgent national importance, noted that there had been unfortunate details of how Nigeria’s crude oil is being stolen or diverted daily in the media.
Malik noted that almost half of the 10.9 million barrels of crude oil allocated for domestic supply between June 2018 and July 2019 as reported by the NNPC is either stolen or diverted.
According to him, the average price for Nigerian crude oil in 2018 was $65 which means that the unaccounted volume may have denied the country $339 million at a time of acute revenue deficit.
He, however, expressed worry over the spate of missing critical national revenue, noting that unless these leakages are plugged. They will deepen the national deficit even further and deprive the country of the much-needed development.