Baring any unforseen circumstance, elections into the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Development Areas in Lagos State is set to hold on Saturday July 24, 2021. This is in ensuring that the third level of government that is closer to the people of the grassroots is filled with elected representatives as the tenure of the incubent chairmen and councillors in the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs in the state will expire in July.
The elected representatives at the local council levels in the state started serving for four years from 2017 after the law guidiy their tenure was adjusted from three years to four years by the Lagos State House of Assembly some years ago.
The elections are coming after months of waiting and speculations of likely postponement by the electoral umpire in the state in conjunction with the state government that will provide the funds for the grassroots elections. The announcement of the guidelines for the polls was the elixir that gladiators and indeed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the two leading political parties in the state and the country, were waiting for.
However, the opposition PDP believes that there should be a level playing ground for all the parties and a shift from what seems to have become the tradition in the country, where the ruling party in any state clinches all or almost all the chairmanship and councillorship seats in the state.
On the other hand, the APC is insisting that it has no control over whoever wins any seat in the councils and that LASIEC is in-charge of who wins and who loses any of the seats. The ruling APC is also battling hard to correct the belief in some quarters that it imposes chairmanship and councillorship andidates on party members based on past experiences. Championing the position of the PDP is its Publicity Secretary in the state, Barrister Ganiu Taofeek, who told Saturday Telegraph in an interview that his party was ready for the polls despite fears of “manipulations by the APC.”
“We have long been prepared for the local government elections in Lagos State because we know that the people of the state want an alternative, which is the PDP. “The APC had been ruling them for long, especially at the local council levels and they are not satisfied. We are not going to release our actual plans. All we will say is that we are set for the primaries.
“If you go through our time table, you will see that we are set for the primary, the training and everything. So, we are on top of the situation. “We are going to contest in all the local government areas. If we have free, fair, and credible elections, we can tell you that we will so trounce the APC that they will not be able to recover till after 2023,” he said.
The PDP Publicity Secretary lamented that it is unfortunate that a ruling party usually wins all the local council elections in any state in Nigeria. While saying that his party wouldn’t pretend to be oblivious of such situation in the state, he said that Lagos is peculiar, and that the political education in the state is sophisticated. “If you dare take away the mandate of the people they will likely protest.
We are also going to capitalize on the internal acrimony in APC. “We are aware that they are not even going to do genuine primaries. They will force unpopular candidates on the people. “We will capitalise on that and allow aggrieved candidates to contest on our platform and it would be difficult for them to deny us the mandate.
“I can tell you that when we win, we will stand by our votes, we will defend the votes and if we lose we will congratulate whoever wins,” he said. He maintained that the PDP has abided by all the rules of LASIEC on primaries for the elections, adding that they would guide against “disruption of our primaries by the thugs of the APC.”
“We are going to contest in all the 20 local government areas and 37 LCDAs in the state. “This is not to say that we are supporting balkanisation. But the reality is that the people of Lagos don’t want the APC to continue ruling them. “The PDP is the only alternative.
If they turn it to 50 local government areas and 150 LCDAs, we will contest in all,” he said. Defending the APC, its Publicity Secretary, Hon. Seye Oladejo, said that his party was well prepared for the primaries and the main elections and that they intend to follow the guidelines as released by LASIEC. “We will make sure that we have internal democracy and provide level playing field for all the aspirants.
“More than ever before, we look forward to the emergence of our candidates for the elections in July. We are prepared for the polls. “As various levels, we have tried to dispel the rumours of imposition of candidates and contestants have been told to be ready to face members of the party to determine who get the tickets. “To the best of my knowledge we are going to have open primaries and candidates will emerge. No cause to worry, the rumours remain what they are,” he said. Oladejo also absolved the APC of interference with the results of the polls despite the fact that it is the ruling party in the state.
“On the issue of the elections being free and fair, you should direct that to LASIEC. We are only participating in the elections. LASIEC would have to determine the winners of the elections based on popular votes, not our party. “On the candidates, the constituencies and local governments can reach agreements on consensus candidature, even at that we will still do primaries. “If they are able to reach agreements on consensus candidates and the party members abide by it, it will still remain primaries. But nobody is being forced or compelled to step down for anybody.
“The situation of party primary is no longer a consensus. It will amount to manipulation and that negates the guidelines as released by the party,” he said. The issue of imposition was also addressed by a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in a statement after a recent meeting of the leaders of the party. Tinubu dismissed the allegations of a plot to influence the APC’s primaries, saying that the party’s Governance Advisory Council in Lagos met recently to talk about ways to ensure fairness for the poll. According to the statement, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would like it to be known, by way of this statement, that he has no preferred candidates for the upcoming local government primaries. “He has no intention to endorse any of the people contesting for the party nomination in any election, whether for chairmanship or councillorship positions.
“On this matter, Asiwaju believes he can speak for the rest of the GAC regarding their belief in the impartiality and transparency of the internal party process. “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the other GAC leaders seek a free, fair, and transparent process in which the candidates who emerge are those who gather the most support among the party rank and file. “Only in this manner do we best prepare ourselves for the general election.”
Tinubu, however, urged all aspirants to compete with zeal, energy and to respect the results of the primaries. Also speaking on the matter in a chat with Saturday Telegraph, a lawmaker in the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Epe Constituency 1, Hon. Abiodun Tobun, said that the APC is the best in primary elections. Tobun said that for people to have come out in large number to buy forms it means they were sure that their interest and ambition would be protected under the APC. “The party has come out clear that there would be no imposition of candidates. “In the Constitution of our party, there are provisions for direct and indirect primaries and consensus candidature. “If there is a consensus among the leaders and followers, we will save time, energy, money and relationship within the community by presenting a consensus candidate.
“But if there is no consensus, the party gives room for primary. If they agree that one person should go and represent them there would be no problem . “Where there is no consensus and you feel you can beat the person the party wants, you are free to contest a free and fair election. If you win, so be it. “If seven people come to an election all of them would tell you they would win until they get to the field. “Our party, APC is a party that can move this country forward, where true democracy will thrive and where democracy is very strong,” he said. Also, a stakeholder in the PDP in Agege area of the state, who gave his name as Adebowale Olushina, said that the party is known for the best practices in internal democracy. Olushina said that all hands “are on deck to ensure victory for our party the polls in the forthcoming local government elections in the state.” The Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) had unveiled guidelines for the local government election and scheduled it for July 24.
LASIEC Chairman, Ayotunde Philips said in the guidelines that the commission had fixed N150, 000, N100, 000 and N75, 000 as nomination forms fees for the chairmanship, vice-chairmanship and councillorship candidates, respectively. “Political parties are required to obtain the following LASIEC Forms: LASIEC 001, LASIEC 002, and LASIEC 008 for their candidates as from May 4. This ends at 12 noon, May 5 at the commission’s headquarters, Sabo-Yaba, Lagos. “LASIEC form 001 must be completed and returned to the commission by the political parties not later than June 4,” Mrs Philips, a retired judge, said. According to her, the minimum age for a councillorship post is 25 years while that of the chairmanship position is 30 years. The chairman cautioned political parties against abusive and inciting statements during the electioneering campaign, saying political rallies should focus on party manifestos. Mrs Philips also cautioned against bribery or other forms of inducement to voters directly or indirectly by political parties’ candidates or agents.
The chairman said: “Campaigns or addresses should not be based on sectional, ethnic or religious sentiments or prejudices. “Political parties’ rallies must not extend beyond 6 p.m. on any day within the specified period. Election campaigns must end on July 22 by 6 p.m.
“Failure to comply with any of the above guidelines and other provisions of the law shall attract appropriate sanctions as provided for in the LASIEC Law 2008 (as amended).” The chairman urged candidates and stakeholders to strictly adhere to all COVID- 19 existing regulations and rules in the state during campaigns. According to her, all political parties intending to field candidates for any of the positions in the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs must adhere to the guidelines to avoid being sanctioned.