By Dapo Akinrefon
MR Taofik Gani is the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos State. In this interview, he takes a swipe at the All Progressives Congress led government in the state for failing to conduct council elections. Among other issues, the party’s spokesperson kicked against the appointment of sole administrators to oversee activities at the council level.
HOW prepared is your party for the council elections and what are your chances if elections are conducted?
The Lagos State PDP is well prepared for the council elections. We were expecting that local government elections would be conducted at the expiration of the democratically elected council chairmen but for whatever reasons, the former governor Raji Fashola shied away from conducting the elections. But now, a new governor is there and we are insisting that new governments are democratically in place as stipulated by the constitution.
We are indeed better fortified to win elections now, if the elections had been held, there would be no reason for us to challenge the government but now that we have won seats in the House of Assembly and House of Representatives, if any election is conducted now, the PDP is better positioned to win. Indeed, the catchment area of the PDP in Lagos State are well outlined now and what we are doing now is to increase the catchment area.
On our side, what we are doing is to increase those catchment areas, so we will implore the chairman of the Lagos State Independent National Electoral Commission, LASIEC, who was a former chief judge of Lagos and his members to put in place immediately the guidelines and date for the conduct of local government election. If they have obstacles put by the governor, they should let Lagosians know. Lagosians are not happy that up till now, they do not have democratically elected representatives at the council level, this is unfortunate.
What is your take on the continued delay of the council poll, do you think it is a deliberate act by the APC led government in the state?
It is not only illegal, it is also immoral on any governor not to conduct elections. It is deliberate in Lagos State and the reason is because APC was shocked, we jolted them when we won the number of seats in the legislature. They never expected it. They are jittery that if they conduct local government elections, apart from the acrimony within the APC, the acceptance of the PDP at this point in time due to the irresponsible governance that we are getting from the Federal government led APC, they will meet their waterloo. That is why the conduct has been deliberately delayed.
What is your position on the appointment of sole administrators for councils in Lagos State, is it legal?
Appointment of sole administrators at the helm of affairs of local government areas that constitutionally intended to be governed by democratically elected officials is illegal, it is an abberation.
Democratically elected persons
The Supreme Court has said it many times, the constitution is clear on it. Section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended states that local government councils shall only be governed by democratically elected persons. So, what is happening at the local government level now by the governors is illegal. That is why we also welcome the move by the House of Representatives to stop the joint state and local government account to enable the local governments have control and be independent.
So, Governor Ambode is now having another opportunity to conduct local government elections. That is why we insist that never again in Lagos shall we have sole administrators, we insist that elections should be conducted immediately after the expiration of the tenure.