Reflections on the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections by Jide Ojo

Reflections on the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections by Jide Ojo

Editor's note: Jide Ojo, a veteran political analyst and newspaper columnist, writes about the just conducted FCT Area Council Elections and recommends important steps INEC should take ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti.

Unknown to many compatriots, Nigeria does not have 774 Local Government Areas. There are actually 768 LGAs and six area councils.

Opinion: Reflections on the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections by Jide Ojo
Jide, a veteran political analyst, reflects on the just conducted FCT Area Council Elections. Photo credit: Jide Ojo
Source: Facebook

This is according to the provision of section 3 (6) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

The six area councils are listed in the First Schedule, Part II, Paragraph 2 of the constitution as Abaji, Abuja Municipal, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali with all of them retaining the names as headquarters except Abuja Municipal with headquarters at Garki.

It is also important to stress that the conduct of elections into the area councils are not part of the constitutional responsibilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission as stipulated in paragraph 15 (a) of the Third Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution. However, that does not make INEC’s conduct of the area councils election illegal.

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Section 299 of the Constitution says the provisions of the constitution shall apply to the FCT, Abuja as if it were one of the states of the federation while section 303 of the constitution says that the administrative and the political structure of the FCT shall be as provided by an Act of the National Assembly.

Thus, the Electoral Act 2010, as amended in Part VI, set out the procedure for election to area council.

Indeed, section 103 (1) of the Act states that:

“The conduct of elections into the offices of Chairman, Vice Chairman and a member of an Area Council and the recall of a member of an Area Council shall be under the direction and supervision of the Commission (INEC) in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”

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Section 104 of the Act explicitly said there shall be elected for each area council in the FCT a chairman and Vice Chairman and that there shall be a councillor for each electoral ward in area council of the FCT.

Last Saturday, February 12, 2022, INEC conducted elections into the aforementioned political offices. INEC announced the date for the polls on March 31, 2021.

Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement then disclosed that the three-year tenure of the six chairmen and 62 councillors would expire in May 2022.

By virtue of Section 108(1) and (3) and 113(1)(a) and (b) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), election into all area councils shall be held on the same date and time throughout the FCT.

This shall take place, not before 150 days and not later than 30 days to the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.

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Further, by virtue of Section 113 of the Electoral Act, an area council shall stand dissolved at the expiration of a three-year period, starting from the date the chairman took the Oath of Office, or when the legislative arm of the council was inaugurated, whichever is earlier,” he stated.

Meanwhile, 1,373,492 registered voters were expected to participate in the February 12 area council elections for chairmen and councillors in 2,229 polling units.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Thursday, February 3, 2022, said 593 of the polling units have no registered voters.

He made the disclosure at the Expanded Stakeholders Security meeting of the FCT and further revealed that 1,328 polling units in the territory have a maximum of 50 voters, while 546 others have more than 1,000 registered voters.

This grossly lopsided voter distribution made a mincemeat of the expanded voters’ access, which made the commission create additional polling units for FCT last June.

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Also, 478 candidates drawn from 14 political parties contested chairmanship and councillorship positions during last Saturday’s area council elections.

Political parties that fielded candidates in the election include Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Allied Peoples Movement (APP), African Action Congress (AAC) and Labour Party (LP).

Despite having 14 political parties contesting, it was a two-horse race between the APC and the PDP.

The latter won in Kuje, Bwari and the Abuja Municipal Area Councils while the former won in Abaji, Kwali and Gwagwalada.

PDP was very excited about its win of the Abuja Municipal that its National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, described the party’s rebound in the election “a great omen under my watch as we lead the PDP back to winning ways and rebuilding Nigeria.”

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Though I was not on the field as an INEC accredited observer during the polls, I did the media rounds on the eve of and the election day, analysing the polls.

I was in the African Independent Television’s FCT Election Analysis studio on Friday afternoon and was likewise in the studios of Love 104.5 FM and WE 106.3 FM from morning to afternoon of the election day.

All the three media stations had their reporters on the field feeding the studio with live feeds on what was happening.

While the elections were largely peaceful, held in substantial compliance with the country’s electoral law, and the outcome reflected the wishes of the electorate, the usual demons of logistics challenge, late commencement of votes, malfunctioning Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System device, inability of some voters to find their polling units, pockets of electoral violence leading to deaths of two people in the Orozo Ward of AMAC as well as vote trading were recorded.

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One of the significant drawbacks in the just concluded FCT area council polls was also the low voters’ turnout. This has been a recurring decimal in our elections.

There are a number of reasons responsible for this development. These include fear of violence, inability of political office holders to deliver on their previous campaign promises, inability of voters to find their names on the Voters Register of where they presumed they should vote as well as malfunctioning of the BVAS accreditation machines.

Others include lockdown or restriction of movement, which makes it difficult for those whose polling units are far from their homes to access their PUs.

There is also lack of awareness about the election, inability of some of the voters to collect their Permanent Voters Card ahead of the election as well as rowdiness at some of the polling units with large voters.

Other contributory factors include a very short voting period, which is six hours compared to the 12 hours of voting in US and Egypt, lack of opportunity for multiple voting methods such as early voting provision, out-of-country voting, mail ballot, voting by prisoners who are not on death row.

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As INEC prepares for the two off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states—scheduled for June and July this year, as well as other bye-elections, the commission should tidy the nuts and bolts of the highlighted perennial challenges facing our election administration.

The malfunctioning of the BVAS should be looked into, so also are the issues leading to late commencement of polls despite shifting of election to commence at 8:30am and end at 2:30pm from the initial 8am–2pm schedule.

Electorate who are lackadaisical about participation in elections should know that they have sold out their rights to complain about bad governance.

Election is about leadership recruitment and non-participation of good people in the process will leave the field open to the bad guys to control.

Tweet at Jide Ojo @jideojong

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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