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Page 19 When will Lagos hold LG elections? Daily Trust in this report examines the uncertainty over the conduct of local government councils’ elections in…

Page 19

When will Lagos hold LG elections?

Daily Trust in this report examines the uncertainty over the conduct of local government councils’ elections in Lagos State and the agitation by the opposition party.

From Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos

Campaign posters and banners of chairmanship and councillorship aspirants dot some streets in Lagos. The aspirants have started advertising themselves, showcasing what they have to offer to the electorate and making moves to endear themselves to the voters ahead of the yet-to-be ascertained date of elections.

That’s the situation in Lagos State where aspirants have started subtle campaigns even though they are uncertain about when the election would hold almost a year after the former elected council chairmen vacated their offices following the end of their tenure.

The former council chairmen were elected in October 2011. It was not clear why they were made to remain in office after the three years constitutional provision on tenure of local government executives in the state, but sources say it was a compensation for party loyalty.

It would be recalled that former Governor Babatunde Fashola, in November last year, directed council chairmen to hand over the management of the councils to executive secretaries, who would be managing the affairs of the 20 local government councils and 37 local council development areas (LCDAs).

Following the expiration of the three-month provisional period for which they were appointed, the former commissioner for local and chieftaincy affairs, Mr. Ademorin Kuye, who was addressing a press conference at the time, blamed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for non-release of outstanding permanent voters cards (PVCs) belonging to the state.

He had said: “I cannot say when the elections will be conducted. You will agree with me that since the last registration when INEC gave us the PVCs, the entire PVCs have not been totally released.

“We still have some outstanding 400,000 left with the electoral commission. There is no way the state electoral commission, LASIEC, can conduct any election without having the appropriate voter register for the state.

“And this register is still in the custody of INEC. It has not been released to the state. The moment it is released to the Lagos State Government, then we can start planning on when the local government elections will be held.”

However, analysts say the reason adduced by the former commissioner might not be tenable since the same voters register used for the 2015 general elections could as well be used for the council elections.

Six months after the former commissioner blamed INEC for the state’s inability to conduct the elections, and with a new governor in place, there is no certainty yet about the issue of when the election would hold.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has faulted the government’s refusal to conduct local government elections, saying that is a gross constitutional violation.

Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Taofiq Gani, assessing the performance of the Akinwunmi Ambode’s 100 days in office, which the party described as dismal, said in a statement: “What about the delay in conduct of local government elections? This is a gross misconduct and violation of the constitution for the governor and House of Assembly not to have put in place logistics for conduct of polls into the councils within 100 days. The law requires just 60 days as notice for polls.”

Capt. Tunji Shelle, the PDP chairman in the state, had earlier told our correspondent that the governor was reluctant to conduct elections because of the party’s challenge.

But the All Progressives Congress (APC) Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, insists that the PDP cannot stampede the government into holding local government elections, saying the party would always win with landslide, anytime the elections are conducted.

He told our correspondent that Lagos State was far ahead of other states in terms of conducting councils’ elections as and when due.

He said: “We have been conducting local government elections consistently in Lagos. They will not say we cannot go and conduct local government elections because PDP said so. They are not in government, they are like spectators. You know in a football field, actors know who they are, spectators watch and clap and dance. So they should just be onlookers. We decide what happens. There is nowhere in the constitution that says the governor must conduct local government elections on a particular date.”

The APC spokesman bragged that the ruling party would defeat the PDP anytime the election is conducted, saying as far as he is concerned, there is no opposition in Lagos.

But observers believe the election may be a straight and tough fight between the two parties, going by the outcome of the last general elections.

According to them, despite the fact that APC is the ruling party, the opposition PDP still managed to win seven House of Representatives seats and seven House of Assembly seats.

The feat is considered significant and strategic for the PDP in the forthcoming LG elections.

This poses a serious challenge to the ruling APC. Pundits are of the opinion that the ruling party might be dilly-dallying on the council elections in order to fix the loopholes observed in the last elections and consolidate on its grip ahead of future elections.

Until the state’s Independent Electoral Commission (SINEC) issues a notice of elections, the conduct of the polls will remain in the pipeline even as the issue will continue to be a subject of debate between the APC and PDP.

Why Dickson deserves a second term- Joseph Ogbe

Engr. Joseph Ogbe is a grassroots politician from Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State. In this interview, he throws his weight behind the re-election bid of Governor Seriake Dickson. Excerpts

From Chris Eze, Yenagoa

You’ve been silent since you failed to make it in the last election. What have you been doing?

If you say I have been silent, perhaps you mean my absence at political gatherings and other places where politicians meet at social level. While I feel it is necessary to attend political gatherings for visibility, it is more important to be among the people who believe in your ability to touch their lives and make them happy. It is imperative to state that they are the ones who matter before, during and after election. And for that reason, your relationship with them should not be like the one that house-owners or landlords have with fire brigade officers when there is a fire.

It is equally necessary that I let you know that without the people of my constituency, I wouldn’t be in politics in the first place. Now, to really answer your question, those of us who don’t see politics as a do-or-die-affair, but are desirous of impacting the lives of the people, don’t see political office as the only means of achieving such. A political office gives you the opportunity to touch more lives. That is just the way I see it.

Does your professional background have anything to do with your youth empowerment programmes?

I am an engineer with love for human capacity development, and the youths are my primary constituency, because of the enormous energy at their disposal, which they could use to better their lives and those around them. If you don’t assist them in nurturing their talents or assist them in developing their skills, they stand a great chance of misdirecting their energies. It may surprise you to know that most youths who took the wrong path in life, and become a liability to themselves and those around them could have ended up differently, with a little support.

In the last few months, we have been reaching out to some youths, assisting them in skill acquisition, to make them role players in the state. The decision to empower people can be taken with or without being in the midst of politicians, but that does not mean that you cannot see me in the gathering of politicians, because there are a few politicians in Bayelsa State that have spent almost all their lives working to uplift those around them. They are the ones that have strengthened my resolve to remain in politics, and use it to support the disadvantaged.

What is your take on the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State?

That takes us to the age-long saying that in politics there is no permanent enemy, but permanent interest. That is exactly what is playing out in Bayelsa at the moment, where the interplay of political interests among the political class has made it to appear as if the state is on the verge of implosion. But I think that at the end of the day; after the governorship election, the people of the state will be better off. I think that Governor Dickson strongly understands the mood of the people of the state, and deserves their support to leave more development mark in the state.

You have not always been open in your support for Dickson; what changed?

To leave a lasting legacy as a governor, there has to be consistency in policy; consistency in governance, consistency in the execution of projects, so that those nearing completion are not abandoned by a government that lacks the kind of vision Dickson has for the growth and development of the state. I strongly believe that the governor will consolidate on the works he started, if he is re-elected. Take Rivers State for example, the monorail project appears to have been abandoned even though billions of naira went into it. Former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi deserves blame for not completing the first phase of the project.

Then how would you assess the Dickson administration?

I think that he has proved to the people of the state and to Nigerians in general what a focused government can achieve within four years. He has demonstrated strong leadership, one that should be supported to speed up development in the state. We all know what we went through under the previous administration. If you compare and contrast their achievements, you discover that in the last four years, the people of Bayelsa could not have wished for a better leader.

I was among those who wrote him off, judging by the way the state was poorly governed in the past; but I must confess that he has held firm as a leader, reaching out to technocrats with ideas to transform Bayelsa. What can I say other than he needs the support of the generality of Bayelsa people within and outside the state.