A recent statement credited to the State Publicity of All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Peter Uwadiae, among other things, castigated the scheduled local government election by the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, EDSIEC.
The APC also threatened to seek legal redress against the amendment of relevant sections of the State Electoral Act. Notwithstanding the fact that, legal processes like the one being anticipated by the APC are needed to enthrone a virile democracy, it is inimical to grassroots development if stakeholders embark on deliberate frivolous cases to lockout administrators from the 18 local government councils.
The APC also accused Edo government of fixing the date for the said election, without the necessary budgetary provisions in the current fiscal year. And for this reasons and others, the APC would rather prefer a shutting down of the 18 local government councils in Edo State.
If and when the APC decides to embark on the wild goose chase, their only intention will be to justify their withdrawal from the election schedule to hold on April 19, 2022.
This paper also note with concern, the very attempt made by the opposition party to misinform Nigerians and Edo people on the parity of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, EDSIEC.
Perhaps, more disturbing is APC’s continued merry-go-round on what constitute a quorum in Edo State House of Assembly made up of 24 members.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria copiously states in Section V (part II) 91 that: “Provided that a House of Assembly of a State shall consist of not less than 24 and not more than 40 members… And 96 (1) added that:
“The quorum of a House of Assembly shall be one-third of all the members of the House.
Part II (2) made the requirements of quorum simpler: “…if objection is taken by any member of a House of Assembly present that there are present in that House (besides
the person presiding) fewer than one-third of all the members of that House and that it is not competent for the
House to transact business, and after such interval as may be prescribed in the rules of procedure of the House, the
person presiding ascertains that the number of members present is still less than one-third of all the members of the
House, he shall adjourn the House.”
What this means is that, Edo State House of Assembly presently with 10 members surpases the quorum needed to perform legal Legislative business for Edo State Government and her agents. The quorum of one-third of 24, is eight (8).
From this constitutional stance, nothing in the complain raised by APC is hinderance to the forth-coming local government election in Edo State.
On the lack of budgetary provision to conduct the election, the state government would seem not to have offended the law if any going by sub-section 123 (1) of the Constitution. Which states that:
“A House of Assembly may by Law make provisions for the establishment of a (Contingencies Fund) for the
State and for authorising the Governor, if satisfied that there has arisen (an urgent and unforeseen need for
expenditure for which no other provision exists), to make advances from the Fund to meet that need.
“(2) Where any advance is made in accordance with the provisions of this section, a Supplementary Estimate shall be
presented and a Supplementary Appropriation Bill shall be introduced as soon as possible for the purpose of
‘replacing the amount so advanced’.
Going by the latter lines, the Constitution anticipated situation such that has midwife EDSIEC now and gives a window for the state government to spend, relying on anticipatory approval from the legislature.
The reason for the amendment is a response to the demands of Edo people for the conduct of local government election, which for all genuine intention is a welcome development that has been praised by Edo people.
The reference to “requisite notice” from the EDSIEC to all the political parties which according to APC, the electoral act has made 90 days, may be borne out of ignorance or again, mischief.
Edo State House of Assembly is at liberty to deal with, in any form, law relating to the functions and operations of EDSIEC without reliance or reference to that of INEC.
To put succinctly, the National Assembly and Edo State Assembly runs parallel in the making of laws for national and state houses of assemblies.
Part 1 (22) of the Exclusive Legislative list of the Constitution stipulates that the federal government and her organs shall have powers over: “Election to the offices of President and Vice-President or Governor and Deputy Governor and any other office to
which a person may be elected under this Constitution, (excluding election to a local government council or any
office in such council).
Relying on this letters, it smacks of utter misinformation by the APC with their position that: “Any provision of any legislation from the House of Assembly that runs contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act which is the act of the National Assembly to the extent of causing inconsistencie, is null and void.”
As a matter of fact, the National Assembly cannot make laws for Edo State House of Assembly, ditto, INEC rules cannot control the operations of EDSIEC.