Following the official release of election guidelines for the conduct of local government election, the Oyo state House of Assembly House committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, today played host to a delegation of the State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC).
The meeting according to Honourable Akintunde Olajide, Chairman of the House Committee, was informed by the decision of OYSIEC to release the guidelines without notifying or carried along the House committee on Local government matters.
Hon. Akintunde representing Lagelu state constituency, in his brief welcome address at the caucus room of the parliament building, noted that the commission should seek to collaborate and synergize more with the legislative arm in its operations in order to have cohesion in the entire approach to the 2024 local government election in the state.
The lawmaker who just won a reelection for another term of four years at the state assembly disclosed that the invitation to deliberation was not to grill or query OYSIEC over the release of guidelines for the conduct of local government election next year but to clarify issues bothering on grey areas with regards to planning.
Other lawmakers who are members of the committee in their separate remarks sought for clarification on the modalities to be adopted for voting by OYSIEC wondering if the acceptance of any valid means of identification as applicable in the last local government election would still be acceptable.
Also, the lawmakers sought more clarification on the level of voters awareness campaign by OYSIEC to ensure adequate participation and inclusiveness of all political parties in the forthcoming local government election.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the meeting Hon. Akintunde noted that the house, saddled with the responsibility to provide legislative guidance and supervision for operations of other arms of government adding that the committee was satisfied with the explanation and clarification provided by OYSIEC while assuring the support of the legislature for the smooth conduct of the 2024 local government election.
“As we all know, we are empowered by the constitution to investigate, summon and to make inquiries as enshrined in the section 128 and 129 of the 1999 constitution. It is on the strength of our mandate that the committee invited OYSIEC to have a deliberation with them and as far as we’re concerned, they’ve holistically clarified issues raised at the meeting which bothers on the conduct of the next local government election.
“The main reason they were invited is to be able to enlighten the public and pass adequate information to them on how far and how well they’re going about it. We also want to give them the necessary legislative support for them to do well. They’ve done it before and we believe that they will do it again with better results, an that is if they get all the necessary support needed.” Hon. Akintunde said.
In his reaction to the issues raised, the Chairman of OYSIEC, Aare Isiaka Olagunju disclosed that Section 28 of the Electoral Act as amended requires guidelines for the conduct of local election to be made public at least 360 days to the election.
Corroborating his point, Olagunju noted that politicians could sometimes be cunning which occasioned why the commission was more proactive in it’s approach especially as concerning areas that could be exploited by politicians to frustrate efforts and resources committed into the exercise while reassuring of the political neutrality of the commission.
Olagunju also stated that as far as next year’s local government election was concern, only electorates with their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) will be eligible to vote as other means of identification which was allowed in the last exercise will no longer be acceptable.
“We appeal to political parties to come out and participate and vote. Everybody will be given an opportunity to participate, we will not interfere.
“All political parties should conduct their primaries and submit names of their candidates in August this year, so that we can have the election on Saturday, 27th April 2024. We want political parties to abide by the rules.”Olagunju said.