March 18, 2023, marked the official end of the governorship and state assembly elections, and so far, many lessons have been learnt.
Unfortunately, for many people, the conduct and results of these elections have further made them lose faith in Nigeria’s electoral process. Some people have resorted to burning their Nigerian passports and Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to show their disappointment in the system.
But, we should hold onto hope as we can bring about the change we want, and the best place to start this is at the grassroots level.
The local government, also called the grassroots government, is the first medium of bringing democracy to the people. It’s one of the most effective ways to build trust between the government and citizens; to create a system that works.
Nigeria has 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), each headed by an elected Chairman, and it’s time that we give these elections as much attention as we would the presidential and state elections. Why? The LGA is directly responsible for many utilities that affect our quality of life, for instance, the construction and maintenance of roads.
Also read: What Are the Functions of the Local Government in Nigeria?
And you might not know this, but elections for the LGA Chairmanship are conducted not by The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but by the State’s Electoral Commissions.
The State governments determine the election cycles for the LGAs.
So, what is the procedure for electing an LGA Chairman?
Eligibility of the candidate
To contest for the seat of Chairmanship for an LGA, you must be:
- At least 25 years of age
- Have a Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSCE) or its equivalent
- Be a member of a political party and be sponsored by it also.
- Pay a non-refundable sum of ₦200,000 to the State Commission
- Be a registered voter with a copy of your PVC as issued by INEC
- Have evidence of tax payment as far back as three years before the election year
The following things can disqualify you from contesting for the seat the LGA Chairman:
- According to Section 28 of the Nigerian constitution, you’ll be declared ineligible if you’ve voluntarily acquired citizenship of a country other than Nigeria.
- If you’re a member of a secret society
- If you’ve been declared mentally unstable under any law in any part of Nigeria
- If you’ve been given the death sentence by any Nigerian court or tribunal
- If you’ve been declared bankrupt under any law in force in any part of Nigeria
- If you’ve been dismissed from the Public Service of the local, state or federal government.
It’s not enough that you’re eligible to contest for the Chairmanship of an LGA. You must be nominated, in writing, by 20 registered voters from all wards in your constituency.
Also, the nomination form must be submitted 20 days before the election date at the place appointed by the State Commission.
Appointment of electoral officers
As in the previously conducted presidential and state elections on February 25 and March 18, 2023, electoral officers will be appointed to coordinate the state commission’s activities in each LGA. Ad-hoc staff such as Returning Officers, Poll Clerks, Presiding Officers and many more will also be appointed for the smooth running of the polls.
To be eligible to vote, you must:
- Have a PVC
- Be a registered voter in the constituency or ward of the LGA
On the day of the election, you’ll once again be accredited using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), after which you’ll be given a ballot paper to cast your vote.
Election and declaration of the winner
If only one candidate is nominated, the Commission extends the nomination time by seven days. However, a poll will be conducted if no other person steps forward. But this time, instead of voting for political parties, the ballot would be either “Yes” or “No”; if the candidate has more yes votes, they would be declared the winner.
But in situations with more than one nomination, the candidate with the majority votes, and at least 25% in at least two-thirds of the wards, will be declared the winner.
So, while our spirits may be low right now with grassroots politics, we still have a fighting chance to birth the kind of Nigeria we want.