INEC intends to delimit boundaries ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and political parties, on Tuesday, began extensive discussions on the delimitation of constituencies in the country, ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Delimitation of constituencies involves adjusting or demarcating boundaries of electoral constituencies so as to create a fair balance of the voting population.
Representatives of 20 political parties attended the parley. Some of the parties that did not send representatives are African Peoples Alliance, APA; All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP; and United Democratic Party, UDP.
INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, in his opening remarks at the meeting, said that the commission has already worked out a plan for the exercise and would strive to achieve it before the 2015 polls.
“We have worked out a plan for the delimitation of constituencies, which we shall strive to do before the 2015 elections. The broad outlines of that plan will be shared with you later today,” he said.
There are 109 senatorial districts and 360 federal constituencies and several state constituencies in the country. The last time delimitation of countries was done five years ago, leading to the creation of 120,000 polling booths in the country.
But with the demographic changes occasioned by religious crises, natural disasters and population explosion, delimitation is necessary.
The commission and the parties also deliberated on the regulation of the activities of the latter, at a meeting held at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja.
Describing political parties as the most important stakeholders in the democratic and electoral process, Mr. Jega said the best way to bring fundamental remarkable reforms in the process is to develop trust and confidence between them and the commission and to have an open, transparent and credible partnership to drive the reform process.
The INEC chairman said that there would be regular meetings and consultations between the commission and the parties, adding that through the meetings, the commission would share its plans and preparations to continuously improve on the electoral process.
The convening of the meetings, Mr. Jega said, is in fulfillment of a pledge it made to hold series of regular consultations with a view to addressing issues of mutual concern as well as improve the transparency and credibility of the electoral process.
“We will seek your input into proposals for reviews of guidelines and procedures, strategies for citizen sensitization and mobilization for effective participation in elections, strategies for continuous voter registration, plans for constituency delimitation, and so on,” he said.
Mr. Jega said the key objective of the meetings is to share information, exchange ideas, discuss mutual concerns, evolve partnership, as well as strengthen the already good relationship which exists, in addressing challenges in the electoral process.
The chairman recounted that since the 2011 general elections were concluded, the commission has so far conducted eight governorship, three senatorial, 11 federal constituencies, 18 state constituencies and one area council election.
He also said that INEC commissioned an independent study of the 2011 voter registration and election with groups of distinguished and respected academics and civil society activists and that the report they produced provided it additional information and recommendations on how to keep on improving the electoral process.
He also stated that the electoral body has commissioned a reputable management consulting firm, “which studied INEC and provided us with useful input for the restructuring and reorganization of INEC to make it a more efficient and effective election management body.”
Mr. Jega said the commission has now approved a new structure and will soon put it into place and commence the process of reorganization.