THE NEW DSIEC WARDS AND THE SURPRISING HULLABALOO ABOUT IT.
By Akpederin Kingsley Ehensiri Esq.
I have read several posts and comments about the recent creation of local government elections state wards otherwise known as DSIEC Wards in Delta State. DSIEC stands for Delta State Independent Electoral Commission. It is charged with the responsibility of creating state wards for the purpose of councillorship elections and the organisation of local government elections in Delta State.
As a people’s rights activist, I have the orientation of speaking truth to power regardless of political party leaning, whoever is at the helms of affairs or personal postures. To succeed in retaining value for whatever criticisms that an activist or critic shuns out, I believe that criticisms or complaints must not go outside the truth box.
To retain the respect that the people have for us, we must understand the facts(which sometimes include the relevant laws), before circulating our positions. It is in the light of the above that I feel very concerned that many of our people especially from Delta Central Senatorial District of our state have jumped to beat the ethnic or sectional gong without analysing the facts and law regarding the creation of the DSIEC electoral wards.
I believe if we pause a bit to understand what happened dispassionately, our views might just change a bit. I must state here that I write this not in the defence of anyone or office, but to satisfy my conscience that I did my bit when I discovered public misinformation or misrepresentation.
Firstly, I want to state that DSIEC wards have the value only of determining the area that an Local Government Councillor represents and therefore the number of councillors for an LGA, and generally, nothing more. Thus the DEIEC wards are not recognised by INEC for the purpose of creating units neither does it potentially limit or increase voting opportunities.
Secondly, it is important to realise that generally speaking, the councillors are paid from the allocations to the LGAs and not from the state government revenue. The DSIEC Law by section 19 provides for maximum of 20(twenty) wards for an LGA except for special circumstances which has not arisen in any of the LGAs of Delta State even after the current review.
What has been the situation up till now and after the just concluded review of the number of DSIEC wards in the state? Whereas some local government councils in Delta State have since had the maximum of 20 wards and therefore 20 councillors in their LGAs, there are some that have had much less. In fact some LGAs have had less than 15 DSIEC wards/Councillors. Almost all Delta Central and Delta South LGAs have had their maximum 20 wards/councillors as their politicians had pushed for the maximum during the Ibori/Uduaghan governorship era. The Delta North Senatorial District LGAs however did not push for their maximum for reasons known to them. It obviously has the advantage of less payment for fewer councillors as all councillors get same remuneration.
However, the politicians of the Delta North have now pushed for their premium number of councillors under the DSIEC Law which has now led to many of them getting the 20 DSIEC Wards/councillorship slots or close to the 20 in the recent review. The question is: should the fact that the LGAs of Delta North Senatorial District will now have close to the high number of DSIEC Wards/Councillors as LGAs of Delta Central and Delta South be interpreted as marginalisation?
States in Nigeria have different number of LGAs. In Bayelsa which has only 8 LGAs, two or three LGAs produce a senator. Many of their LGAs have two or more House of Assembly members. That has not been the headache of anyone. If there is delay in the politicians of an area to get what other areas (this time, Delta Central and Delta South) have had for long, can the areas that have had it for long reasonably cry of marginalisation?
We of Delta Central must choose our fight well to avoid being given derogatory names. All lovers of truth and justice must ask relevant questions on the issue of creation of additional DSIEC wards. The question should be, is there any LGAs in Delta North Senatorial District that have more DSIEC wards after the recent review than the LGAs of Delta Central? In relation to that question, were any additional wards created for LGAs that already had 20 wards? If there is no Delta Central LGA with lesser number, then our people must cease fire and make amends to our public image.
The above is strictly my view and not the views of any organisation irrespective of whatever offices I hold in them.