Despair and anger over delayed council poll

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

• We Have Agreed To Go To Court-LP

Almost two years after the expiration of the tenure of elected Local Government officials in Lagos State, expectations of Lagosians, political parties and contestants has continued to wane, as Sole Administrators continue to manage the affairs of the councils.

Recall that the tenure of the last council officials, who were voted into office on October 21, 2011, expired on October 29, 2014. But since January 2015, interim executive secretaries and sole administrators have been administering the affairs of the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas (LCDAs).

At a stakeholders’ forum organised by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) in April, the electoral umpire emphasised that the poll will be conducted later this year. The composition of the LASIEC months after, gave fillip to the promise that, at last, people at the grassroots would have the chance of electing people of their choice.

But with the silence from the side of LASIEC, coupled with the rumour from members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that if the poll doesn’t hold in November, it will be shifted to March 2016, the patience of stakeholders, especially aspirants is turning to despair, as the waiting game continues.

A source from LASIEC, confirmed to The Guardian last week that there is no date or preparation yet for the poll. Considering the 90 days notice stipulated in the electoral act before commencement of poll, it is not likely the poll will hold this year.

Attempts were made by opposition parties, especially the National Conscience Party (NCP) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to compel the state to conduct the poll, but their efforts did not yield any fruit.

At a point PDP threatened to mobilise other political parties, non-governmental organisations and civil societies to stage mass rallies to demand the conduct of poll. The Publicity Secretary of the party, Taofik Gani, 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.”

On its part, the NCP dragged the state and LASIEC to court and won the suit, where Justice Abdulfatai Lawal of the Lagos High Court, on October 23, 2015, ordered for council election 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.
The case, instituted by the party in January 2014, was also used to request for an order of mandamus to direct the electoral umpire to conduct council election, but the decision was later upturned by the Appeal Court.

It was after that the governor dissolved the executive secretaries and appointed sole administrators, who are managing the affairs of the councils till date.

Chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Pastor Abiodun Popoola, who described the delay as an illegality, said his party would soon go to court on the issue.

“We are in a country where governors have turned local governments into ‘boys quarters’ affairs, NCP went to court over this illegality and got an injunction, and just like they did in the case of former deputy governor, Femi Pedro, what they always do is to use these corrupt judges to stall injunctions, which they succeeded in doing at the appeal level.

“It is unfortunate that Nigerians are not talking, the youths are not talking. I have seen the crop of people they installed as sole administrators, they don’t have exposure, they lack experience of running a local government, they don’t have the expertise, neither can they take any of these local governments anywhere, they are like errand boys. We have the support of our national body to go to court,” he said.

Popoola, who also berated the composition of the LASIEC board, noted; “to have a retired chief judge of the state and other card-carrying members of APC as members of the LASIEC board, tells you where they are coming from. It speaks about decency, moral, integrity and upholding the tenet and ethics of the judicial service.

“The chairman of LASIEC is an old hand of the APC, we don’t have trust in them. As we stand today, there is so much illegality in the state. We are saying no to all these, we don’t have a well-composed LASIEC board, I can tell you that Lagosians are tired of the way they are doing things, we are not happy with the way things are, if they don’t do the right thing now, they might provoke people to rise up in anger and the outcome might not be good for this society. They might have stolen our common-wealth today, but the people will ask down to the last kobo.”

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