APC govt still killing time on council election
• Appoints another set of sole administrators
After one and a half year in office, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, penultimate Friday, announced the dissolution of Executive Secretaries managing the affairs of the 20 local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
This did not only surprise political observers, opposition parties and residents of the state, it also suggests that the conduct of the much-expected poll might not be yet in sight.
Early this year, there was speculation in the camp of aspirants of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the poll might be conducted in July.
Surprisingly, at the time, the aspirants and other political parties began preparation for their campaigns, with posters and ward-to-ward tours, but the announcement by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) that there was no guideline yet from them, dashed their hopes.
National Secretary of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Comrade Ayodele Akele, raised the alarm that the APC-led government “is killing time and surreptitiously planning to conduct the poll, to catch other political parties unaware.”
The indifference of the state government on the issue, forced the NCP to institute a suit against the state and LASIEC at the State High Court. On October 23, 2015, Justice Abdulfatai Lawal, ordered for council elections to hold within 30 days. He also ordered the dismantling of the caretaker committees in the 57 councils, declaring such system as illegal and unconstitutional. But the state government appealed against the judgment, which it won.
At a time, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vowed to mobilise other political parties, non-governmental organisations and civil societies to stage a serious mass rally to demand the conduct of the poll.
However, since that time, government has not said anything about the poll. Even during a stakeholders meeting held with political parties, Civil Society Groups and others, few weeks ago, the electoral umpire did not mention any date.
In its reaction to the new appointments, the PDP condemned the move, which it described as embarrassment to democracy.
In an interview with the Publicity Secretary of the party, Taofik Gani, he claimed that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his party are withholding the election, in order to salvage their party’s image, especially at the grassroots.
“They want to use that to settle the acrimony arising from the pre-election rancor between former governor Babatunde Fashola faction and Ambode’s faction. They are also rushing to do some palliative developments, like grading of roads instead of actual rehabilitation of roads.
“They want to come up with such deceit. The electoral body is ready to conduct the poll, but the organisation is not funded and the House of Assembly that ought to check this act of unconstitutionality is just there, not doing anything. It is a serious violation of the Constitution for us to continue to have undemocratically elected local government officials manning the councils,” he said.
But the Conference of Political Parties (CNPP), which threw its weight behind the appointment of the sole administrators, described the move as a welcome development.
The chairman, Akinola Obadia, who spoke with The Guardian on phone enjoined Lagosians to give government enough time to prepare. “We should give LASIEC enough time to prepare. They claimed they have not got the voter register; we should wait for them to get it from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), so that they can give us credible election.
“People are agitating that whoever is going to occupy the councils should be democratically elected, so, let LASIEC be transparent with the process so that everybody will be happy, the sole administrators have short time, its not for long time, I am very sure, they have short time.”