BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & GBENGA OKE
THIS is unprecedented! Twenty-four hours to tomorrow’s elections into 20 Local Councils and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of Lagos State, the authentic candidates for the polls are not known. The Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) is yet to publish the lists as of press time yesterday.
Allegations and counter-allegations of substitution and imposition of candidates have been the lot of the leading political parties- Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead the polls, hence the need to get the list of the authentic flagbearers from the electoral umpire.
At the 2 Birrel Avenue, Yaba secretariat of LASIEC yesterday, the list had not been pasted contrary to what obtained in the past. The list pasted on the notice board was for names of observers who will monitor the election.
LASIEC PRO speaks
LASIEC Public Relations Officer, Mrs Ronke Famakinwa, said the list was not available because the commission was dealing with the political parties and not candidates contesting for the chairmanship and councilorship positions.
“We do not have the list of candidates because we do not deal with candidates but political parties participating in the elections,”she told two reporters, who pestered her for the prized document.
What LASIEC guidelines say
Non-publication of the list runs contrary to LASIEC’s amended guidelines for 2011 Local Council elections, which was dated September 3 and signed by the Chairman, Justice Abdul Fatai Afolabi Adeyinka (rtd).
A section on validation of candidates states: “Every registered political party shall deliver to the Commission the complete list of names and the relevant particulars of all candidates the proposes to sponsor for elective offices in respect of the elections. Validation of candidates will be undertaken on Tuesday 4th October – Tuesday 11th October, 2011 by the Commission.”
Another section of the the guideline: “Validation for substituted invalidated candidates,” said that “substitution for invalidated candidates must be made not later than Wednesday 12th October, 2011. Validation for substituted invalidated candidates takes place Thursday 13th October to Friday 14th October. The final list of eligible candidates shall be published on Saturday 15th October, 2011.”
However, six days after the expiration of deadline for the publication of the list, LASIEC is yet to do so, raising legal and procedural questions on the readiness of the commission to conduct tomorrow’s election.
Observers cleared to monitor the Lagos Council elections include the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Ogun SIEC, Osun SIEC, Bauchi SIEC, Ekiti SIEC, Ondo SIEC, Niger SIEC, International Foundation for Election System (IFES), Consulate General of the USA, Nigerian Women for Democracy Support and The Orderly Society Trust.
The rest are Lagos State Women Forum, West African Youth Peace Mission, The Companion, Voters Awareness Initiative, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms, Diocese of Lagos West, Anglican Communion, Young Achievers Campaign Organization of Nigeria, Committee for Defence of Human Rights and Justice Development and Peace Commission.
The political parties cleared for the polls include: APN, ARP, SDMP, KOWA, FRESH, 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.
On offer for the October 22 electoral combat among 28 political parties are 57 chairmanship and 376 councilorship slots.
LASIEC boss assures of credible polls
Chairman of LASIEC, Justice Adeyinka (rtd) has however assured voters and the parties of a credible election.
He said that about 18,000 electoral officers and adhoc staff would be deployed for the election and that he has asked the Police to deploy about 20,000 policemen to ensure adequate security. Yesterday, the commission trained ad-hoc staff that will conduct the polls at Magodo.