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INEC Constituency Delineation And Other Matters Arising by Ugo Harris Ukandu



Nigeria’s electoral map will soon change for the better if Dr. Maurice Iwu of INEC succeeds in his current push for a more balanced redistricting of Nigeria’s skewed constituency districts. Iwu proposes a redrawing of the electoral map to right the wrongs of the past and also to give teeth to the constitutional mandate requiring such an exercise every ten years. Dr. Iwu was in Atlanta, Georgia the week of July 15, 2008 to address and educate Nigerians in Diaspora and the international community on this very important policy shift – a paradigm one that surely augurs well for Nigeria as a young democracy. Maurice Iwu was well received and many of us who are keen watchers of events in Nigeria (from afar) applauded him for taking such a bold step geared towards having equitable representation of minorities and fair balance between constituencies of equal population. It is a novel step and the first by any national electoral commission chairman in recent history. We therefore call on all our compatriots back in Nigeria to support Iwu in this venture and to reject any temptation to play dirty politics with it.

As Iwu clearly detailed it, this exercise will create and empower more districts that have more voting population by allocating more electoral seats to them and redistricting certain contiguous groups together in some states. Other parameters include homogeneity, proximity, equality of constituencies and the all important proportional representation. A review of back issues of press clips on point will show that this is something that has remained closer to Dr Iwu’s heart for quite sometime. Maurice Iwu had during the presentation of  INEC’s Official Report of the 2007 General Election in December of 2007 at the National Press Club in Washington DC,  pointed out that the current electoral map of Nigeria with its attendant deficiencies created under the military government; contributed some to the difficulties INEC experienced in conducting the last election in Nigeria. Simply put, constituencies of contiguous and proximate parts are likely to pose fewer challenges to INEC in terms of movement of electoral
materials/personnel and collation of results. Maurice Iwu is right on the money. A closer scrutiny of Nigeria’s current electoral map suggests that a great many of them are gerrymandered. This is unfair and undemocratic to boot.

Thus, considering the difficult terrain and poor logistics it engendered in the conduct of the last general election, INEC is now working very hard to change it for the better for now and in the future. In the history of Nigerian electoral regimes, this current INEC leadership under Dr. Iwu is the only one that has not only created a positive road map for future elections in Nigeria, but also has introduced the innovation that electoral preparation for the next election must begin immediately after every election. This assures professionalism and competence in the delivery of elections. Additionally, the current INEC leadership, as typified by Maurice Iwu, is the only electoral body in Nigerian history that has upgraded and is creating a futuristic and sophisticated data mining and information management system to meet international standard set by the United Nations Organization. All these are admirable and should be lauded and backed by all Nigerians, regardless of political persuasion. It is all for the common good.


A further review of Maurice Iwu’s many innovations will show that INEC is now introducing a Business Intelligence model by creating solid electoral archives, sophisticated data mining technology, instant references, state by state statistical measurements, data analysis and logistics, local Government and polling booth on demand information systems. Under Maurice Iwu, INEC is refining its collation methodologies, projection forecasting, up to date training of its staff and the deploying of modern technology to the fullest in the conduct of future elections in Nigeria. As an example, this is the only electoral body in Nigerian history that has created  a functional customer service system, and developed an up-to-date  website that is user friendly and easy to access and navigate information and data any day, any time from any where in the world.

According to the INEC Official Report on the 2007 election at page 92,“elections the world over are not mere events; they are processes planned over a period of time. Planning, as experience has shown, yields positive results”. It can not be stated any better than this and Maurice Iwu has made this part of his new mantra at many public fora where he addressed Nigerians in Diaspora. We agree.

INEC’s evident hard work and resurgent professionalism as revealed by the presentation by Dr. Maurice Iwu in Atlanta, is wont to bring better planned elections, improvement and deployment of cutting-edge technology in the delivery of elections and many more positive impacts on the polity. The unalloyed cooperation of all - the government, National Assembly, the states and local government and international community is necessary for the proper education of the citizenry on these many innovations. The Ministry of Information and Orientation as ably led by John Odey can be trusted to weigh-in on this by deploying its now much improved information dissemination systems to assist in educating Nigerians. It needs to be understood and stressed that Maurice Iwu’s plans will curtail corruption in the nomination process, improve  personnel, improve women and minority participation, upgrade INEC logistics, tighten security for voters and votes,  improve voter education, enhance election observation and monitoring and, above all, build enduring bulwarks around Nigeria’s delicate democratization efforts.

Dr. Iwu is right in his postulates that for Nigeria to experience improved and credible elections in the future there is an urgent need to eliminate paper-based balloting and to introduce electronic-based balloting. I believe his prescriptions to hold better prospects than the so-called Option A4 in which we experienced voters shunting from behind one candidate to the other or the other bizarre variety where party agents conspired to overcount or undercount votes. Electronic voting systems create permanent records with virtually no write-access to the core data, thus assuring zero tampering. And Maurice Iwu knows better because his universally acclaimed research at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington DC exposed him to the application of advanced computer systems and methods at their very best.

Finally, Maurice Iwu recommended that election staggering should be encouraged, whereby like in the United States and Great Britain, elections are held for different offices at different dates instead of the current logistically nightmarish practice of scheduling all elections together to be held in one single day. It makes a lot of sense because Nigeria does not yet boast the efficient transportation regime that could have assisted INEC to quickly deploy men and materials to far-flung electoral precincts in real time. The most efficient manner in which INEC delivered on the by-elections is mainly because all the by-elections did not have to hold in one day. This is illustrative enough of Iwu’s thesis on this point.

By: Ugo Harris Ukandu
Nigeria Democracy and Justice Project
Washington, DC

Ugo Harris Ukandu is of Nigeria Justice & Democracy Project, Washington DC


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