By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, has fixed the conduct of elections in the 20 Local Governments and 35 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, in the state for July 24, 2021, as clearly stated by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Chairman of the commission, Justice Ayotunde Phillips (retd), announced this in a statement on Tuesday.
According to Philips, “LASIEC, which is charged with the statutory responsibility of electoral management and administration, is committed to conducting free, fair, credible and inclusive elections into the offices of chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors in July this year.”
In the Statutory Notice released on Wednesday by LASIEC, the commencement of political activities kicks off on Friday, April 30, by political parties, while primaries take place on Monday, May 3, 2021, among other activities. All electioneering campaigns will end on July 22, 2021, and election proper holds on July 24, 2021.
In its reaction, the Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC applauded LASIEC’s readiness to conduct free, fair and inclusive elections in the 57 councils.
In a statement by its interim Publicity Secretary, Seye Oladejo,, stated, “This has enhanced the credibility of the electoral umpire that’s prepared to carry out its responsibilities as at when due without paying attention to the needless distractions of political actors.
“When we await the official publication of the statutory notices, we wish to state clearly that the Lagos State APC is prepared for a free, fair Local Government election to renew the mandate of our council administrators for another four years term.”
Oladejo recalled that the party earlier responded to the “rabble-rousing” by the opposition party by assuring residents that Lagos would continue its tradition of operating within the ambit of the law and uphold democratic governance.
What the law says about the tenure of Local Government chairman In Lagos State
In May 2016, former Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode signed into law the ‘Local government administration amendment law’, allowing Chairmen and other elected officials of local governments in Lagos State to enjoy four-year tenure as against three.
The tenure elongation brings elected council officials at par with their counterparts at the state level, including the governor, deputy, and speaker and members of the House of Assembly.
The current crop of Chairmen were sworn in on July 25, 2017, going by the law signed by Ambode, their tenure ends 2021. Below is the real contents of the law;
The Lagos State Local Government Administration Law 1999 (as amended) in Section 12(1) expressly provides that,
“The Council shall stand dissolved at the expiration of a period of (4) years commencing from the date when the Councillors take and subscribe to their Oath of Membership “
Section 27(1) provides, ”A person elected as Chairman shall hold office for a term of (4) years commencing from the date the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office is administered…….”
Section 21(1)(a) of the same law has now restricted the maximum tenure of the elected Chairman to two terms by providing that,
“.has have been elected as Chairman of any Local Government Area or Local Council Development Area in the State at any (2) previous elections “
ON THE DEATH OF ELECTED CHAIRMAN
LASIEC Law 2008 (as amended) is also very straightforward that in case of death the Vice-Chairman takes over.
Please note that further to the above section, among the amendments made to this law in 2016 is the creation of new Section 62 which provides as follows:
”Where a person duly elected as Chairman of a Local Government Area dies before subscribing to the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office, the person elected with him as Vice-Chairman shall be sworn in as Chairman.”
Also, same Section 62 in subsection 2 provides, “The Chairman shall subject to the approval of a majority of the members of the Legislative Council nominate a Vice-Chairman.”
Subsection 3 provides, “Where the Vice-Chairman is appointed from amongst the Councillors, the Commission shall conduct a bye-election to fill the vacancy created by the appointment”
The law also provides that a Vice Chairman can be appointed outside amongst the Councillors but must be subjected to the ratification of the Legislative Council.