Lagos PDP doubts APC’s commitment to hold council polls

Akinwumi Ambode, Lagos State Governor.

Akinwumi Ambode, Lagos State Governor.

Igbokwe assures election will hold

As Lagos State prepares for the conduct of local council elections, rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed doubt about the sincerity of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to actually conduct the exercise.

The party also said it has no confidence in the leadership of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) under Justice Fatai Adeyinka (rtd.) to conduct free, fair and credible election alleging that in the last council election, its candidates were openly short-changed to favour the ruling party.

It further alleged that Ambode was holding tight to the legacies of his predecessors, Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola on council election under which it said the autonomy of the councils were completely usurped.

But despite the PDP’s doubt, its leadership are not leaving any stone unturned to ensure full participation of their members in the exercise whenever it is to be conducted.

This position was made known during the last General Assembly of the PDP at the party’s secretariat, when the state’s Chairman Capt. Tunji Shelle directed that all members of the party should start mobilising immediately towards the council elections.

The PDP equally faulted the selection and eventual confirmation of four members of LASIEC and accused the governor and the State House of Assembly of neglecting due process and flouting the state electoral laws, which prohibits members of political parties from being part of LASIEC composition.

To the PDP the inclusion of the immediate past Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Lateef Raji as LASIEC commissioner was an unequivocal resolve by the ruling APC to rig the proposed elections.

According to the PDP Spokesman, Taofik Gani, “Raji has always been a card carrying member of the APC from the Alliance for Democracy (AD), under which he acted as chairman during the party’s fractionalisation, to being a member of Action Congress (AC); Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and served in the administration of the immediate past governor, Fashola.”

The PDP also expressed concern over the continuous retention of Justice Adeyinka, a retired judge who had remained the state’s electoral body boss since Tinubu inaugurated it on January 2002.

According to Gani, “The confirmation of Raji, as LASIEC commissioner, is conclusive of the APC and Ambode as anti-democrats and desperation to control all the councils in the state. This is insulting the sensibilities of Lagos voters and all well meaning persons must condemn this act.”

The PDP spokesman however, urged Ambode to prevent anything that could lead to state of anarchy in Lagos by ensuring prompt conduct of the council election.

“Beyond that the government should also look into all the issues we have raised concerning the overstay of and our lack of confidence in, the LASIEC boss to conduct credible election as well as the appointment of Mr. Raji,” he said.

The PDP also wondered why the ruling APC should continue to run the councils with Executive Secretaries solely appointed by the government for over a year now without bothering to hold election.

He said it was not only illegal but also a total disregard to the wish of electorates and other parties in the state. According to him, “The APC is merely avoiding the fact that it has become unpopular in certain parts of the state knowing fully well that if it should conduct election into the councils today, the PDP will dust it in several places. Even where we triumph in the last exercise, the APC totally disregarded the wishes of the people by imposing executive secretaries.”

Gani also urged the State Assembly to be bold enough to make public its findings on the spending of the councils in the last one-year.

It would be recalled that the executive secretaries were appointed as transitional heads of councils in October 2014 to take up the day-to-day running of the councils/LCDAs following the expiration of tenure of the democratically elected chairmen and councillors.

The then governor, Fashola, at their inauguration in January 2015, had said that they would run the local councils for three months during which elections would have been held.

Perhaps worried by the way the councils were being run, the State House of Assembly, after a recent assessment tour, directed that all executive secretaries to present their 2016 budget proposal for the House’s approval.

The House, in motion number 27, called for the budget estimates and also their past incomes and expenditures, to help the House evaluate their performances since they were appointed into office.

THE APC spokesman in Lagos, Mr. Joe Igbokwe assured that the state government would definitely conduct elections into the councils contrary to the negative expression by the PDP.

He also added that there was no aspect of the electoral law that forbade the governor from appointing whosoever pleases him as LASIEC commissioner “otherwise the PDP should show the people which aspect of the law Ambode has violated by appointing Raji.”

Igbokwe also dismissed as inconsequential, the sentiment expressed by the PDP over Justice Adeyinka for having overstayed as LASIEC boss.

According to him, “there is no reason for any party to fidget before the election. If the PDP is sure of its ability and popularity to win the council poll, it should continue to plan instead of looking for cheap excuses.”

The APC’s spokesman urged the people to continue to support the administration of Ambode “who is doing everything possible to move the state forward.”

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