May 12th Kaduna LGA Elections: KADSIECOM Under Fire From S’ Kaduna Stakeholders
By: Luka Binniyat
KADUNA – Barely ten days to Kaduna State Local Government Area (LGA) Council polls, critical stakeholders from Southern Kaduna, Tuesday met at a political Summit in Kaduna and came shot of passing a vote of no confidence on Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commissioned (KADSIECOM.)
The One Day Summit of ‘Stakeholders in Politics & Governance from the 13 LGAs of Southern Kaduna’, which was put together by the Committee on Political Matters, Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) had the theme – “Towards Participatory Democracy: Local Government Administration and Elections in Focus”.
President of SOKAPU, Barrister Solomon Katptain Musa welcomed the gathering and warned about the danger of electing incompetent persons into offices.
“I want us to elect only those who will stand by us; respect us and fight our cause,” he said.
Speaking at the Occasion, Senator Danjuma Laah, (PDP, Kaduna South) said he had no confidence that KADSIECOM would conduct a free and fair LGA elections on the 12th May, 2018.
“I want to say that right from the start, I had my doubt about the idea of KADSIECOM, without any independent body accompanying it, will go and discuss with voting machine makers. All members of KADSIECOM are under the instruction of their employer, Governor Nasir el-Rufai. I don’t have confidence that the machines will not work in a way that will favour his party (APC).
“I will say that we should still come out and vote. But we must be vigilante. We should cast our votes, watch them, escort them and ensure that they are well counted,” he said.
Barrister Elisha Kura (SAN), who spoke under the theme: ‘Understanding Local Government Laws and Administration, 2018’ said he was shocked that though the Local Government Law and that of KADSIECOM, which was signed into law on the 6th February, 2018 was printed in April few weeks to elections.
“I am sure that over 90% of Kaduna State indigenes, including those contesting the elections have not seen it. I knows the effort I had to make to get a copy,” he said, insisting that it was same for the Local Government law of 2018.
Kura, who is the 3rd SAN from Kaduna State, and the second to come from Southern Kaduna, however said that the new LGA law gave the Councils some measure of autonomy.
“All elected LGA chairmen can have some level of checks by the elected councillors who are empowered to form a parliament, make bye-laws, appropriate funds and even impeach the Chairman,” he said.
On his part, Barrister Mark Jacob, former Kaduna State former Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General, said he doubted if the 12th May Council polls would still take place.
“I am saying this because KADSIECOM has already broken an important aspect of Electoral Act which stipulates that in all elections at all tiers, voters’ registers must be displayed at all the wards’ levels for at least 30 days before elections.
“Eleven days to elections, that has not happened. And aggrieved voter can just go to court and stop the entire process,” he said.
“Mobilisation of the electorates and voters education was very poorly handled by SIECOM and we are just on the verge of elections,” he said. “SIECOM has failed,” he concluded.
Barrister James Kanyip who spoke on the LGA law, agreed that the new law had given what he said we semblance of autonomy.
“The Local Government Parliament had been given powers to appropriate funds and its parliament can even impeach a Chairman. That is good,” he said, “But the Local Government is constrained by at least five more obstacles to make it truly autonomous.
“There is still the State/Local Government Joint Account and the Ministry of Local Government Affairs – which treats the LGA as mere departments under it – still exist in the new law,” he said.
“Again the power of the LGA to generate revenue as allowed by the constitution has been abolished by a new revenue law in the state,” he added.
Also speaking, Speaking Dr. Bonnat Zwahu of the Department of History, Kaduna State University (KASU), said he had information that the machines to be used by the KADSIECOM had been formatted to give advantage to a particular political party and wanted to hear from the KADSIECOM official present if it was true.
On her pert, Barrister Gloria Ballason, also a newspaper columnists, a broadcaster and Human Rights Activists, accused KADSIECOM of watching on as Kaduna State Government flaunted a court judgement which ordered Kaduna State government to conduct LGA election long before now.
“I am disappointed that KADSIECOM could not take the court judgement and simply conduct elections,” she said, adding that, “the idea of allowing governors to put in Local Government Care Taker Committee is illegal and KADSIECOM should know this,” she said
Dr. Albdullmalik Durunguwa, Kaduna State nominated Permanent Commissioner, National Population Commission (NPC) on his part said that KADSIECOM should make the process of recall of elected Local Government Council official less cumbersome to force them to take their roles seriously.
In response, Mr. Bulus John, who represented KADSIECOM, said that all the fears express by the stakeholders were unfounded.
“I want to assure you that the machines cannot be used to cheat or to favour any political party,” he said.
“I also want to tell you that we have done adequate mobilisation and I want to tell you that this election will go on smoothly,” he assured the gathering.
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Arc. Barnabas Balla Bantex, and all political appointees serving under the government of Kaduna state from Southern Kaduna shun the meeting.