A former Plateau State chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) Alhaji Yusuf Kanam, says local government in the country must be rescued from the grip of state for Nigerians to enjoy real dividends of democracy.
He told the Nigerian Tribune that credible elections into local government elections in the country would remain a mirage because of the overbearing influence of governors on who becomes the chairman and members of state electoral commissions.
He observed that most governors merely appoint their cronies into the bodies to suit their whims and caprice thereby casting doubts on the credibility of the polls conducted by state independent electoral commissions.
“The way and manner council elections are conducted in this country is questionable and calls for a total reform so as to restore sanity into the polity. Ruling parties at the state level use their influence to manipulate elections to their favour . They also deploy the platform to win subsequent elections at various levels. It is a matter of overbearing influence, as he who pays the piper dictates the tune,” Kanam said.
To redress the trend, he said the funding of state electoral commission should be from an independent body, while the members should not be appendages of the governor or the state government.
Kanam called on the National Assembly and the Committee on Reform of Electoral Law headed by former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani to look at the issue of local government election critically with the aim of making sure elections at this level are in tandem with democratic process and norms.
However, he called on the Plateau State government, in conjunction with the state House of Assembly to facilitate the process of conducting local government election, stating that it was an aberration to have caretaker committees at that level of government.
The former CNPP chairman blamed the Independent National Electoral Commission for the absence or weak structures majority of parties in most states, accusing the commission of bias in registering parties.
“INEC is bias in registrations of the parties; many of them seem to have close shop after the 2015 general election. There are criteria; a party ought to have presence in all the 36 states in the country, not just during elections. This is one of the lapses of INEC,” he said.