Finally, Oyo government announces council election date
• Accord, LP React
Almost nine years after the conduct of the last local government election in Oyo State, the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi has scheduled the next election to hold across the 33 council areas in September.
The last council election took place on December 15, 2007, during the regime of a former governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala. The ex-governor had shortly on assumption of office sacked the council chairmen that emerged during the election conducted by his predecessor, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja on the eve of his departure from office in 2007.
For his first four years, Ajimobi couldn’t conduct the poll, based on what he described as legal impediments. “Our government has not been able to conduct local government election due to some legal entanglement that has stalled our desire to fulfill the aspirations and yearnings of the people to elect their choice of chairmen.”
Despite pressure from opposition parties, he stood his ground. Accord and the Labour Party, who were at the forefront of the campaign, then, described government’s action as unconstitutional, illegal, and anti-people, capable of causing untold hardship for the people at the grassroots.
They described the governor’s attitude towards the poll as a deliberate ploy to remain in control of the councils, without taking into consideration the welfare of the people at the third tier of government.
They claimed that if caretaker committees, which are ‘illegal administration’, could thrive for four years, that shows the kind of leadership the governor is offering the state.
Sometime last year, the governor raised the hope of some aspirants, when he announced that the poll will hold early 2016, but nothing was heard till a fortnight ago, when he inaugurated the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC), where he announced that “the election would be conducted three months after the electoral umpire was put in place in line with the provision of the Constitution.”
“We will adhere strictly to constitutional provision that stipulates that election to LGs should take place three months after inauguration of the state electoral commission. The September election would have all the tenets of transparency and credibility, which the state was known for. I charge you to write your names in gold and make history with the proposed election, by ensuring that the exercise is successful.
“I also pledged to support the commission to ensure that they conduct transparent, free, fair and credible election in order to build the confidence of the people in the sanctity of balloting,” he said.
But the move was welcomed with mixed feeling. While Accord applauds it as a new development, the LP accused the governor of dictating to OYSIEC.
Chairman of LP, Gbenga Olayemi, who said the composition of caretaker committees at the council level is illegal, noted that the poll is long overdue.
“The position of the party is that as the governor, he has no right to dictate when the election will take place. Doing that means that the commission is not independent. However, as a party, LP would like to participate in the election because it is long overdue, provided the commission makes the election to be free and fair.
“In the past they don’t come for election, they just write results. We want to see if this commission would not do that, but our own fear is the way the governor is going with that statement. We are skeptical about the independence of OYSIEC. Moreover, All Progressives Congress in the state is no more popular, like the government, so if we have a credible local government election today in Oyo State, the APC as a party will not win a single local government,” he said.