By Charles Kumolu
The release of the results of the recent local government council polls in Lagos has reawakened the once moribund PDP in the state. Has the dominant and progressively inclined ACN overplayed itself?
IN the beginning: Before now even the most loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, in Lagos State, snubbed party solidarity to agree that Lagos is(was) working. Same could also be said of other PDP members from outside the State who visited Lagos before the May 29, 2011 second inauguration of Governor Babatunde Fashola.
A delighted Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu on a visit to Lagos, disregarded party sentiments and commended Fashola for changing the face of Lagos as it was formerly known.
Describing Fashola as a dedicated and committed public servant, the governor, said the performance of his Lagos counterpart had become a nightmare for the PDP in the state.
He added that while everybody had thought Lagos would not work, Fashola had proved critics wrong by transforming the city.
Local govt chairmen do not deserve our votes: “I am speaking from the bottom of my heart. Fashola has performed; forget about partisan politics. Here is one person that has performed. People had given up on Lagos that it would not work, but he has made it work,”he said.
That worthy commendation from the PDP governor was also matched by the legacies of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in serving as a bulkwark against the many infractions of the PDP.
However, the double commendation Fashola attracted to himself is now being brouht to question in the wake of uprisings shadowing the recent Local Government council elections in the State. Indeed, the PDP had raised an alarm that the state had neglected the inner cities, especially in the area of road maintenance and construction. The ACN, however, had described such insinuations as mere campaign gimmick before the polls.
Ahead of the elections the electoral viability of many of the incumbent ACN candidates was seriously questioned by a number of stakeholders within and outside the party who felt that they had underperformed in office. It was the belief of many that the local governments did not measure up to the achievements of the state government during either the Bola Tinubu or Fashola period.
Perhaps, this informed the obvious voter apathy that characterised the exercise.
While many were yet reckoning with the apathy, the release of the results triggered another round of crisis.
According to the results released by the electoral umpire, the ruling party won all the 57 chairmanship positions in all LGAs and LCDAs across the state. .
It also indicated that out of the 376 councilorship positions, ACN won 355 seats; Congress for Progressive Change,CPC, got 2 while PDP had 18 seat. The results were released by the chairman of the Lagos State Independent Election Commission, LASIEC Justice Abdufatai Adeyinka(rtd) after more than 24 hours, during which speculations arose that the results were being altered.
The controversy came in the wake of allegations by the PDP that the LASIEC altered many of the results to suit the ruling ACN. PDP cheiftains had claimed that they won at least three local government chairmanship positions and a high number of councillors.
Although, the Publicity Secretary of ACN Mr. Joe Igbokwe had told Vanguard in a pre-election interview, that ACN would get a “landslide victory,” the announcement of this landslide victory has set grassroots politics on fire. For the PDP, the outcome of the exercise is contrary to popular expectations. Hence, the party is crying foul.
LASIEC’s alleged partisanship: The party’s national publicity secretary Prof. Rufai Alkali in a press statement said:“We had earlier alerted the people of Lagos State of deliberate measures put in place by the ACN to pre determine the outcome of the exercise. While we have never doubted the ACN’s capacity for mischief, the conduct of its officials as well as the staff of LASIEC in this election beats our widest imagination.”
Similarly, the State PDP Chairman, Mr. Setonji Koshoedo, said his party won chairmanship positions in Badagry Central LCDA, Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA, Eredo LCDA, Somolu Local Government, Agbado/Oke-Odo LCDA and Ojo Local Government Area, as well as many councilorship positions spread across areas the state.
Setonji added:“Yet LTV announced a different election result for Badagry Central. This is contrary to section 5(1) – (8) of LASIEC law which prescribes that election result can only be announced at polling units, ward collection centres and LG/LCDA Secretariat. This action of LTV is highly condemnable and will be better addressed at the appropriate time and place.”
PDP did not campaign for the election: It was, however, not as if the PDP was hardly expected to win the majority of offices given that the party did not seriously campaign. ACN’s Igbokwe taunted the party in that regard even before the polls.
“While we are working now, going all the nooks and crannies of Lagos sensitising voters, the PDP is not doing anything, they are not campaigning, they are busy making allegations and claims, my advice for them is to put their house in order,” Igbokwe said.
Igbokwe’s assertions, nonetheless, the delay in releasing the results and the brusque response of the ACN did not pacify many, including even those who normally do not support the PDP.
Indeed, there are indications that the high regard the ACN had won as the country’s leading progressive party coudl now come into jeopardy in the aftermath of the election. Indeed in what some could consider as sacrilege, some ACN leaders were being compared to some of the country’s worst dictators.
“If the ACN had conceeded the three or four chairmanships the PDP won it would have further raised the image of the party as a true progressive party practising what it preaches,” one observer said.
Bode George wages another war: The crisis has helped to reawaken the partisan political spirit of the former National Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George who since his release from incaceration months ago has laid low.
Last Monday Chief George led party members in a demonstration round some major roads in Lagos during which they voiced their anger at what they claimed was the truncation of the mandate of the people. The demonstrators brought activities at the Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, in Ikeja to a temporary halt. The protesters who mobilised from the party secretariat at Ikeja GRA, went through major streets, terminating at the ever-busy Maryland.
George told the party faithful that the PDP performed very well in the election only to be denied their victory by LASIEC in collusion with leaders of the ACN.
George vowed that the party would stop at nothing to regain the mandate given to it by the people of the state in the local government election. According to him, the protest was necessary to show the grievances of the party over the conduct of the election. Addressing a crowd of party supporters, he berated the ruling ACN in the state and its leaders, who he accused of supplanting his party at the polls, saying they would come to ruin soon.
His words: ‘When they claim they are democrats, all the people of Lagos can now see that they are cheats. People held an election, voted for people of their choices.” ” How would a man, who was employed by the Lagos State Judiciary succumb to announcing results without the figures?,” he asked?’
Where is that done in any part of the civilised world. These guys have taken us on a jolly good ride. People have shown that it is possible… right in Ikoyi where he lives, he lost woefully. Why can’t he accept that it is over? Lagosians have had enough.
The ACN after some silence responded yesterday with a strong warning to the PDP not to over heat the polity tasking the party to learn from the ACN’s struggle in overturning the gubernatorial results declared in favour of the PDP in Ekiti, Edo and Osun States.
Igbokwe in a statement released on Thursday said:
“But it appears that Lagos PDP now think that civility on our part has become a sign of weakness. If this is the mindset of PDP Lagos as they terrorize Lagosians on a daily basis, we ask them to perish the thought”
“When PDP stole our mandates in Ekiti, Osun and Edo States , we did not resort to violence, we did not go to Oshogbo , Ado Ekiti and Benin to seize the government offices, and we did not harass any body in those States, we did not threaten fire and brimstone. We went from one Court to the other to seek redress. And it took us three years to get justice”
“Like the patient bird, we waited for three years. We assembled our facts and figures, we engaged, we dialogued, we did the road walk, we spent the money, time and energy, we paid the prices, we suffered humiliation, pains, agonies and even death in the hands of PDP nest of killers to get justice”
“Now, the Lagos PDP can learn from ACN Ekiti, Osun and Edo examples. If Lagos PDP has sufficient and empirical evidences to show that they won any Council seat in Lagos , they know what to do. Gather your lawyers, assemble your facts and head to the Election Tribunals to prove your cases beyond reasonable doubts. If Lagos PDP cannot do this we advise them to hold their peace.”