A total of 10 federal and state assembly seats are currently waiting for the green light of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be filled.
Until last Friday, the commission had nine of such elections to conduct, apart from the two off-cycle governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for November 19 and October 10 respectively.
The death of the chairman, Committee on Information and Strategy, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Tunde Buraimoh, 60, who passed on last Friday, created a vacancy at Kosofe Constituency 2; while the nine by-elections are Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa State; Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Bayelsa State; Imo North Senatorial District, Imo State and Plateau South Senatorial District, Plateau State.
Others are Cross River North Senatorial District, Cross River State; Nganzal State Constituency, Borno State; Bayo State Constituency, Borno State; Nasarawa Central State Constituency, Nasarawa State and Bakori State Constituency, Katsina State.
While none of the commission’s spokespersons were available for comment, a senior official, who insisted on not being named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the commission would anytime this week meet and announce the dates for the by-elections.
The official said the COVID-19 pandemic, legal issues and security reports among others were largely responsible for the delay in announcing the dates for the elections.
However, INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had said at the May 30 first virtual meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) that in addition to the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the commission was also making preparations to conduct nine legislative by-elections.
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Meanwhile, aspirants in major political parties have intensified efforts toward getting their party nomination, even as constituents urged INEC to expedite action on filling the vacancies.
The seats of central and west senatorial districts in Bayelsa state became vacant last February following the election of the former occupants, Senator Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as governor and deputy governor respectively.
INEC had also rescheduled the exercise following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country in March 2020.
But the constituents are of the view that the state was being deprived of effective representation due to delay in conducting the by-election.
Currently, it’s only Bayelsa East senatorial district that has a representative at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, with Senator Biobarakuma Eremienyo-Degi.