Lagos Council Poll holds July 22

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THE Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission clears the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party along with 10 other political parties for the Lagos council poll on July 22

|Jul 24, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT  |

The stage is set once again for the battle of which party will control Lagos State local councils. The Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, has cleared 12 political parties out of the 23 registered for the state local council election on July 22. The All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  are among those cleared.

Dapo Olatunde, director of publicity, LASIEC, in a statement on Wednesday, July 12, said that the cleared parties had met the commission’s requirements for the polls and also presented candidates for validation.

Olatunde listed the parties as the Action Alliance, AA; Alliance for Democracy, AD; Labour Party, LP; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and Accord Party. Others are Kowa Party; National Action Council, NAC; People’s Democratic Movements, PDM; United Democratic Party, UDP, and United Progressive Party, UPP.

He said the names of the validated candidates had been displayed at the commission’s headquarters for party members and members of the public to see.

Besides, the commission has begun a three-day “Train-the-Trainer” course for its electoral officers across the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas.

According to Olatunde, the training, facilitated by the International Foundation for Electoral System, IFES, was to equip ad-hoc staff engaged for the July 22, elections. IFES is a United States-based organisation committed to the deepening of democracy and international best standards in election management. The organisation operates in more than 100 countries and is supported by USAID.

Ahead of the election, the major political parties, APC and PDP are facing internal crisis that might affect their performance at the poll. The APC as the ruling party in the state is still grappling with the crisis arising from the imposition of candidates for the chairmanship and councillor elections by the party leadership.

The crisis in the party started in May 2017 at a stakeholders meeting when Bola Tinubu, APC national leader, announced the decision of party leadership to retain 18 immediate past chairmen who were promised automatic ticket for their efforts in rebuffing the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the 2015 general elections. Tinubu, while urging members to accept the decision of the party, however, directed party leaders in all the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas to give special concession to youths and women.

He, particularly, urged members of the party in Surulere to give peace a chance and drop all forms of public disorder. The decision, however, did not go down well with some aspirants who grumbled that they had spent fortunes in pursuing their ambitions. These set of group clamoured for primaries election and not selection.

Some of them have gone to court to contest the process the party used to select the candidates. So far a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, had ordered the party to conduct fresh primary at the Odi-Olowo LCDA. The court on Friday, July 7, held that no primaries were held by APC, on May 27, in respect of the Odi-Olowo LCDA. Therefore, Justice Doris Okuwobi, during the proceeding ruled that there should be fresh primary conducted in the LCDA.

The case brought by Hakeem Abolaji Saka against the APC and LASIEC told the court, among other things that no primaries were held in respect of the Odi-Olowo APC LCDA chairmanship office for the forthcoming council poll. “Any primaries held were contrary to Article 20(i),(ii),(iii )&(iv) of the Party’s Constitution, The State Chapter of the party did not hold primaries as there were no delegates. Names of imposed candidates were drawn up as returned with a view to sending to LASIEC 2nd Defendant as candidates of the party. Any list of returned APC candidates is null and void as they did not emerge from democratic primaries as provided for by the party’s Constitution,” the court held.

In the case of PDP, the factionalisation of the national leadership of the PDP may influence the performance of the party at the election in the state. PDP members under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi did not present candidates for this election. Rather they are supporting Labour Party. But the other faction in support of Senator Alli-Modu Sheriff is fully involved in the electoral process.

With the Supreme Court affirming Makarfi as the leader of the party on Wednesday, July 12, the party stewards in the state are presently in dilemma on which direction to take. The Makarfi faction is of the opinion that they are going ahead with the alliance with the Labour party, while the other faction is still indecisive.

Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling, Taofik Gani, spokesman of the Makarfi-led faction in the state, said the party would still go ahead to use the Labour Party, platform for the council election. “The party would come out with a categorical statement very soon. This judgment goes beyond the PDP intra politics but actually a successful surgery on the political stability of Nigeria, which has been very volatile as a result of the diabolical attempt by the APC to ‘kill’ the PDP.”

Gani noted that a party with over 65 million registered members within a country of about 140 ‎million definitely is the party by which the heart beat of politics and political stability can be measured. He urged those who left the party at the trying period to come back as “it is not too late to return, especially those who won elections on its platform. In Lagos state, we shall welcome them and forge ahead together if they are found fit and proper to be further associated with.”

The Lagos faction loyal to Senator Sheriff and led by Segun Adewale had reconciled itself with the new development in a congratulatory message to Makarfi. “Makarfi’s victory was a call to reconciliation towards building a formidable PDP. Our nascent democracy was being tested and victory belongs to all PDP members. I have always said that despite the crisis in our party in the last 14 months, our party is all about the interest of the people. Our party remains the hope of Nigerians and the Supreme Court today has affirmed our belief in the rule of law.”

Be that as it may, if the national leadership of the party directs the state chapter to participate in the election, the party will be riding on the success it recorded at the Osun-West Senatorial by-election. But political observers believe that while some voters who voted at the by-election might have done so in protest against the hardship in the country, and against Osun State Governor, who has had seemingly unending run-in with civil servants and pensioners due to backlog of unpaid salaries, others may have just voted in sympathy with the family of Adeleke.

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