BEFORE the first ballot is cast in today’s election into 20 Local Councils, 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and 376 wards in Lagos, the stage had been prepared for litigations.
Midwife of the polls, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) as at Thursday night had not published the list of candidates contrary to the guidelines it issued for the election.
LASIEC’s amended guidelines for the elections issued on September 3 and signed by the Chairman, Justice Abdul Fatai Afolabi Adeyinka (rtd) stated that list of candidates would be published on October 15. This guideline was not adhered to, as it were.
The leading parties have been engulfed by allegations and counter-allegations of substitution and imposition of candidates, which LASIEC’s publication of the candidates’ list would have helped to douse. Interestingly, most of the candidates are not known to voters.
Aside alleged imposition of candidates, the leading parties have in the main embarked on mudslinging instead of issues-based campaign. At a time a section of the opposition was claiming that the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) did not perform at the grassroots, the opposition does not appear to have offered the electorate a credible alternative by way of issue-based campaigns. There has also been little or no sensitisation and mobilisation of voters.
While ACN accused the opposition of planning to disrupt today’s election, the opposition accused the LASIEC of having rigged the figures in favour of the ruling party even before the first vote is cast. Across the state, it has been one complaint or the other.
Chief judge inaugurates LG election petition tribunal
As part of its measure to ensure justice for all in the election, the Chief Judge of Lagos, Justice Inumidun Enitan Akande has inaugurated Local Government Election Petition Tribunal. The panel is expected to commence hearing on all petitions that may arise from today’s election.
Political parties, stakeholders trade words with LASIEC
At a zonal meeting with LASIEC last week, representatives of political parties and stakeholders expressed fears over the preparedness of LASIEC to conduct credible polls. They alleged that LASIEC had failed to make known the names of candidates of some political parties, such as PDP, All Peoples Grand Alliance, APGA, Labour Party.
It took LASIEC commissioner, Mr. Ibidokun Pedro, who represented the commission’s Chairman, Justice Abdul_Fatai Adeyinka several minutes to calm frayed nerves at the parley. Aside assuring free and fair election, he said the commission had created adequate awareness for the exercise.
He said: “A lot of efforts have been put into sensitization and mobilization of eligible voters to come out and participate in the elections. We held several media briefings as a way of creating public awareness. We engaged the services of Radio and TV jungles to increase public awareness before the elections. We have displayed the voters register in each of the Ward Collation Centres, at these collation centres, there is provision to lodge complaint buy members of public to check for any omission or error in the voters’ register and have directed the voters to correct the anomalies at INEC.”
ACN accuses opposition of plans to disrupt polls
At the last batch of its rallies at Amuwo-Odofin, the ACN alleged that opposition political parties were planning to disrupt the local government elections. Lagos State Chairman of the party, Otunba Henry Ajomale said the opposition parties led by the Peoples Democratic Party had threatened to unleash mayhem in the state.
The party chairman who denied allegations that ACN members were staff of LASIEC, said the opposition had resorted to cheap blackmail to cause confusion in the state instead of convincing the electorate with a superior manifesto.
He urged the party members to disregard the threats and intimidation to cast their votes, explaining that the election was very key to their development. Speaking at the rally, the Lagos state Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola who also addressed Lagosians at the state’s 26th health mission before the rally said the state government through the free state health mission had treated over 2.6 million Nigerians irrespective of their origin
To approach the election as a united family, leaders of the ACN have intensified moves to appease aggrieved members protesting the imposition of candidates in the party. They urged members protesting over the removal of their aspirants to wait till 2015.
At a rally in Epe, Ajomale said that all the aspirants could not be fielded by the party at once.
Also, Chief Lanre Rasak, a former PDP, who defected to ACN recently, called on all the warring factions in the party to accept what happened in the spirit of sportsmanship
Protests over imposition of candidates were rife in Agbado-Ijaiye LCDA, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu, Bariga, Surulere, Ikeja and Ajeromi-Ifelodun among others.
Indeed, traditional rulers and clerics petitioned ACN national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Fashola and other leaders on the issue. The traditional ruler of Ikejaland, Oba Rauf Amore, his council of chiefs and religious clerics of Ikeja local government in the petition dated October 15, 2011 to Governor Babatunde Fashola, National leader, Sen. Bola Tinubu and the ACN State chairman, Ajomale, kicked against agelong imposition of candidates in the area. The petition was jointly signed by all the title chiefs of Ikejaland including Chief Sikiru Ademola Gbeleyi (Bada of Ikejaland), Princess Idayat Ilo (Iyalode Ikejaland,) Rasheed Balogun (Alapinni Ikejaland,) Yusuf Aileru (Eleko of Ikejaland), Chief Mrs. Alaba Adalemo (Iya_Oba Ikejaland) and Jubril Oyemade (Apena Ikejaland.)
The letter recalled similar situations whereby political office seekers were forced down the throat of the residents in 2003 when Sen. Tokubo Afikuyomi was moved from Lagos Central by the party hierarchy to contest the Lagos West senatorial seat.
“It is imperative to note that Ikeja has been meted with an avalanche of injustice in the past. Sen. Tokunbo Afikuyomi was moved from Lagos Central in 2003 and forced on the Ikeja people to contest the Lagos West senatorial seat. The people of Ikeja overwhelmingly voted for him and he won. The incumbent speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA), Adeyemi Ikuforiji was also brought from Epe and imposed on the people of Ikeja to contest the last general elections at Ikeja Constituency I. Again, he was given a mammoth support by the good people of Ikeja.
“This is the first time an indigene of Ikeja is considered worthy to be nominated as chairman of Ikeja local government after 44 years of neglect and denial. Alas! His name is now being substituted. Is this not repugnant to the law of natural justice?” they queried.
Also youths from Ikeja, in protest, walked from the Ikeja local government to the ACN, Ogba Secretariat and terminated the protest at the State House of Assembly and the Governor’s office. They lamented the sudden substitution of Balogun’s mandate which was given to the incumbent chairman, Hon. Wale Odunlami.
Spokesperson of the protesters, Mr. Roberts Obafuso who spoke to newsmen said that Balogun had gone through all the statutory screening as provided by the law and satisfied all necessary requirements, after he was duly nominated by the party and the leadership of the ACN only to discover that he had been dropped by the party.
Youths in Ifelodun Local Council Development Area in Amukoko area of the state also threatened to work against the interest of ACN at the elections over imposition of candidates. The youths took to the streets last Thursday protesting the imposition of Dr. Fatai Ajidagba popularly known as Ajifat as the chairmanship candidate for the LCDA, against the will of the people.
The youths carried placards, with various inscriptions such as: “Adigun is our Messiah, Asiwaju give us our mandate”, “No Adigun no election”, “All we are saying, give us Adigun”, said failure to field Hon. Adebayo Adigun who is presently the Vice Chairman of the council will signal the end of ACN in the LCDA.
Speaking on behalf of the angry protesters, spokesperson of the Ifelodun LCDA youth wing, Segun Michael called on the leadership of the party to intervene, saying that the youths have resolved to “sell” their votes to other parties should Adigun be sidelined from the polls
28 parties to contest
LASIEClast Tuesday announced that out of 35 political parties that obtained nomination forms, only 28 were cleared to contest the polls.
The political parties include: APN, ARP, SDMP, KOWA, FRESH and NMPP, ACN, PDP,APGA, NCP, ADC, ACCORD, MPPP. Others are CFN, CPC, JP, PMP, AA, Labour, MDJ, ACPN, DPP, APS, ALP, ANPP, PRP, ND and NNPP.
LASIEC boss assures voters
Chairman of the commission, Justice Abdul_Fatai Adeyinka (rtd), has assured voters of a credible contest. On whether elections would hold at new polling units delineated by LASIEC, he said the new units would not be used for the 2011 polls as the commission was still awaiting final ratification from the Surveyor General and subsequent approval by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
Therefore, LASIEC would be using the existing 8645 polling units and satellite units created by INEC in Lagos for the 2011 general elections to accommodate voters who were hitherto disenfranchised in previous elections.
Adeyinka said LASIEC would adopt the Open secret Ballot method of voting and urged the people of Lagos to participate fully in the polls. He said unlike what obtained in the April polls, accreditation, voting and vote counting would take place simultaneously, while adequate preparation had been made for the aged, sick and physically challenged electorate to exercise their franchise.
While disclosing that about 17, 000 Policemen would be deployed to ensure security during the polls, Adeyinka, tasked the electorate and residents on the need to be vigilant and report cases of suspicious movements or discovery of strange objects in their vicinity to the authorities.