A major redrawing of constituencies, which may affect representation
in the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, has begun.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) inaugurated
yesterday a committee to redelineate the constituencies nationwide.
The 17-man committee, headed by INEC chair Prof. Attahiru Jega, will
review the existing constituencies and the allocation of seats.
It will also identify imbalances in the existing arrangement and correct them.
Apart from the Senate where representation is based on equality of
three per state, the House of Representatives and Houses of
Assemblies’ seats are allocated based on population.
They are likely to be affected at the end of the INEC programme, which
must nevertheless be approved by the National Assembly.
Mr. Kayode Oladimeji is the secretary of the committee.
The review of the constituencies is coming 18 years after the last one
carried out in 1996. The country has 388 constituencies and the law
provides for a review every 10 years.
The committee, according to Jega, is to consider the composition and
boundaries of existing constituencies, as well as allocation of seats,
and identify imbalances where they exist.
Jega said the programme would help deal with the inequalities in the
constituencies and bring about equity in the weight of representation
and votes in the constituencies.
He said: “Ideally, the weight of representation should be as nearly
equal as possible. For every representative should be as nearly equal
the number of the population quota.
“Every Federal constituency should be as nearly equal in size of
388,000. That ensures that weight of a representative in the
parliament is as nearly equal with other representatives.
“In Nigeria there are wide-ranging disparities. There are
constituencies that are as small as 122,000 and some as large as
“These disparities have existed because of population movement or
original inequalities in the creation of constituencies.”
The INEC chief went on: “We are obligated by the constitution to
periodically review these constituencies so that we can bring equity
in the weight of representations and votes in the constituencies.
“It is very important in deepening democracy and fairness in representations.
We are required to do it either after every population census or in at
least 10 years.”
Inaugurating the committee, Jega said: “In the kind of democratic
system that we operate, where constituencies are based on
single-member representatives, it is necessary, as provided by the
constitution, and in line with international best practice, that the
various districts and constituencies should be reviewed periodically.”
“This ensures that representations based on constituencies keep apace
with demographic changes in the country, thereby ensuring that the
process is equitable.
“Unfortunately, however, we have never been able to undertake this
periodic review, important as it is, not only because of our chequered
political development, but partly also due to lack of sufficient
critical data and expertise to allow for an open, equitable and
transparent constituency review.”
Jega said the challenge is for members to be absolutely impartial and
He told members of the committee that the assignment has presented
them the opportunity to be part of history.
Other terms of Reference of the Committee are to: .review previous
reports on the review of electoral constituencies; establish the
methodology for carrying out a review of existing constituencies; .and
to develop the delimitation guidelines, taking into account the 1999
Constitution (as amended), the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), and
international best practice.
The committee will also review the boundaries and composition of
existing constituencies in line with the Constitution, the Electoral
Act, and international best practice; and make appropriate
recommendations to the Commission. It will set up any number of
sub-committees that may be necessary in the discharge of the
delimitation assignment; and consider other issues that may be useful
to a successful constituency review.
Other members of the committee are: Dr. Nuru Yakubu, Mrs. Thelma
Iremirem, Mrs. Amina Zakari, Dame Gladys Nne Nwafor, Dr. Chris
Iyimoga, Prof. Lai Olurode, Surveyor General of the Federation,
Director-General, National Space Research and Development Agency,
Director-General, National Boundary Commission, Director-General,
National Population Commission, Prof. M. Mamman (ABU, Zaria) Prof.
Mustapha Duze (BUK, Kano), Mrs. P.C Onokala (UNN, Nsukka), Prof. S.I
Okafor (University of Ibadan) and Dr. Lisa Handley (international