•PDP kicks against caretaker committees
•We’re preparing, says LASIEC
The tenure of elected 20 local government chairmen and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in Lagos State is expected to end on July 25 2021. Former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode swore the incumbent chairmen into office on July 25 2017.
The Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) conducted the last local government election on July 22 2017 of which 12 political parties participated. Two days after the exercise, Chairperson of LASIEC, Justice Ayotunde Philip (rtd), who was nominated by Ambode in May 2016, declared all the 57 seats in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). While APC won all the chairmanship seats, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Accord Party (AP) won four and three councillorship seats, respectively.
But four months away from end of tenure of incumbent councils chairmen, observers are in doubt if the Justice Philip-led LASIEC is serious to conduct fresh council polls or perhaps she is waiting for directives from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
It is also observed that there are no preparations whatsoever indicating readiness of LASIEC or the APC-led administration to conduct council elections in about four months. The last one held on July 22 2017 and expectedly, another one should take place next July.
A strong party source said one of the possible factors for the silence may be the ongoing membership registration/revalidation exercise of the APC, which the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of APC is directly supervising.
Inside sources within APC told The Guardian that the registration/revalidation exercise has created a kind of uncertain atmosphere in the Lagos chapter, where nobody is yet to understand what the outcome of the registration exercise may be.
Some fear the registration/revalidation exercise will take the party structure away from the control of individuals and lead to internal democracy as against prevailing situation where one man is accused of imposing his choice candidates as local government chairmen.
It is also claimed that Sanwo-Olu may not have received instruction from the party leadership on the elections. “Recall that the councils is very crucial for grassroots mobilisation during general elections and any party in charge of local government structure in a state is always at advantage. To therefore rush to conduct local governments election at this uncertain period might be a wrong strategy.”
The ruling party is also accused of not being comfortable with the degenerating infighting, especially now that some stakeholders are asking for internal democracy.
For instance, the Fouad Oki-led factional chairman and the Lagos4Lagos Movement, poised to capitalising on the level playing ground the registration/revalidation exercise is expected to provide, if it ends successfully.
While consultations are ongoing among key stakeholders whether to appoint caretaker committees pending when the uncertain political situation subsides, it is rumoured that some aspirants on the platform of APC are unhappy with the idea of caretaker committee. “Those that have started their campaign are already grumbling and requesting that a level playing ground should be provided for all aspirants,” said a strong party source.
It is also observed that the Sanwo-Olu government deliberately failed to make provision for local government election in the 2021 Budget. This was however dismissed on the ground that the executive can always approach the Assembly for a supplementary provision.
BUT instead of the government to clear the doubts about the sincerity to conduct fresh elections into the councils, the Lagos Assembly embarked on inspection exercise of projects executed by the councils and LCDAs. The House Committee on Local Government Administration and Community Affairs led the inspection.
The committee, which visited Mushin Local Government, Odi Olowo LCDA, Lagos Mainland Local Government, Yaba Local Government, Iba LCDA, Ojo. Local Government and Oto Awori LCDA, Badagry Local Government, Badagry West LCDA, Olorunda LCDA, Surulere Local Government, Itire Ikate LCDA, Coker Aguda LCDA, Lagos Island Local Government, Lagos Island East LCDA, Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA, Ikorodu West Local Government, Ikorodu Central LCDA, Igbogbo/Bayeku LCDA, Ijede LCDA, Ikorodu North LCDA, expressed satisfaction over it saw.
Chairman of the committee, Olayiwola Olawale Abdul Sobur at various stages of the tour expressed satisfaction with projects executed by the council bosses, saying, most of them performed relatively well but said he was not impressed with the performance of Iba LCDA.
Another lawmaker, Olawale Age Sulaiman a member of the Committee also noted that the council bosses have tried to meet the yearnings of the people in various councils and charged them to do more.
The committee rejected the claim by the council bosses of Ikorodu Local Government, Ikorodu West LCDA and Igbogbo/ Baiyeku LCDA with their poor performance due to low allocations received.
Recently, the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa also constituted a joint committee of Public Account Committee (Local) and Local Government Administration and Community Affairs to critically look into the unscrupulous developments in Isolo and Ikosi Isheri LCDA, where there are allegations of undermining the functionality of the legislature.
MAJOR opposition Peoples Democratic Party cautioned the governor not to appoint caretaker committees for the councils.
The party warned the ruling party to desist from any plan to shelve the council election or adopt any undemocratic means to foist unelected candidates when the tenure of the incumbents expires in July.
The chairman of PDP, Mr. Ade Doherty said his party is still conducting serious investigation into why APC is dilly dallying over conducting fresh election into local governments in the next few months.
According to him, “We have made wide consultations and our findings are not encouraging. In July, the tenure of the incumbent chairmen of the councils will end and we shall see what the government will do. As of now there are no signs that the administration is serious to conduct the exercise.”
In a statement, Spokesman of PDP, Mr. Taofik Gani said the party would go to any length including taking necessary legal action to ensure that the government conducts free, fair and credible council elections.
He revealed that it is coming out hard on Lagos APC the governor based on its interactions with some aggrieved aspirants on APC platform “who revealed to us there are underground moves by the administration to shelve the council polls and appoint caretakers.”
It urged the governor Sanwo-Olu to resist the plan to entrench undemocratic rule in the local government areas, saying, the move to entrench undemocratic councils will not only fester anarchy at that level but will also be the albatross of the governor.
The statement reads: “If any attempt to seek reelection in 2023. PDP asserts that all means legal shall be deployed to ensure that citizens of the state have their self chosen representatives at the councils and that if the APC machination prevents democratically elected representatives as at when due, the people must say no.
“The voice of the major opposition party in the state is coming on the heels of statements credited to some chieftains of the APC in the state that local government elections will not hold and that caretaker committees shall be set up at the levels.”
The party added that Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution as amended ‘guarantees democratically elected local government councils.”
According to PDP, “We are informed that the APC plans not to conduct local elections this year. The tenure of the councils will expire in about three months. Interestingly this information got to us from the APC aspirants themselves. Those that are interested in contesting and like all other parties, wish election must be conducted. The APC is jittery of any local government elections as majority of the councils have performed very disappointingly and cannot win any fair polls to retain control. We call on the state Governor and LAHA to resist any attempt not to conduct local government elections to prevent state of lawlessness at that government level.”
The Spokesman of APC, Mr. Seye Oladejo said PDP’s needless ranting about the local government elections that are not even due and for which the state awaits official pronouncement “shows the idleness and needless rabble-rousing of its confused leadership.”
According to him, “The baseless allegation or suspicion to entrench undemocratic governance at the local government level in the state is not in tandem with the fact that the state has always had democratically elected leaders at the grassroots since the inception of this dispensation.”
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho told The Guardian, “There is an independent body that conducts council elections, check with them.”
MEANWHILE, Spokesman of LASIEC, Mr. Tope Ojo, distanced the commission from the altercations between the two parties.He said LASIEC was making necessary preparations for the exercise, adding: “When the time comes, the media would be carried along.”