65 days & counting , to the proposed local government election in Lagos State . Both major political parties are gearing as the polls is generating interest and controversy among the stakeholders.
Given the track record of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state in the last 18 years, the contest for chairmanship and councillorship appears to be within the ruling party.
The local government election’s scheduled for July 20 in Lagos State. Politicians are in high spirits The scramble for tickets is visible across the 57 councils.
The electorate have equally embraced it as an opportunity to choose those who will pilot the affairs of the councils in the cosmopolitan city.
In line with the time table released by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), political parties were expected to commence campaign between April 15 and July 20. Also, nomination forms were expected to be submitted to the commission by the parties between April 19 and May 22.
But, it has been observed that most of the political parties have not registered their presence to battle for the council polls.
The chairman of LASIEC, Justice Ayodunde Phillips, had appealed to the electorate to show the highest level of decorum during and after the elections. She said eligible voters should obtain their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) to enable them exercise their franchise.
With the race over who controls the third tier of governance now in earnest, stakeholders have been thrown into frenzy, as politicians have been busy, doling out their manifestos to convince the electorate.
Observers say most of the parties are not sticking out their necks in the contest. They say the scene is dominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC). This is creating some worries whether Lagos is degenerating into a one party state. This fear was heightened by the recent defection of some PDP members in the Lagos House of Assembly.
In most of the local governments, majority of the posters on the streets are those of APC aspirants. Before the close of submission of forms in the APC, no fewer than 1,780 councillorship aspirants and 344 chairmanship aspirants had submitted their letters of interest. while in amuwo , no fewer than 100 APC aspirants indicated their interest
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the closest rival to the APC in the political terrain, has not been able to muster half of the number the APC paraded. Other parties don’t even have aspirants contesting in the polls.
No doubt, the factional crisis in the PDP is largely responsible for the low participation in the election. Sources at the PDP said many aspirants are confused, because they do not know which faction to pitch their tent and where to obtain their forms.
But, the party’s Organising Secretary, said that the PDP is in high spirit to participate in the council election, noting that the party primary was fixed for May 24 and 25. He said an encouraging number of aspirants had indicated interest in the council polls.
He said: “The primary will be transparent and I am sure after the exercise everybody will be happy. The party is going into the contest as a family and we have already commenced the mobilisation to storm the grassroots polls.”
He explained that the polls were long overdue, stressing that Lagosians were enthusiastic to elect those that would serve them at the local level.
His words: “We are not afraid of a fight; it is not a fight in the sense of physical combat, but a fight in terms of competition for popularity and there is no doubt that the PDP is popular with the people.”
Speaking at a forum in Shomolu, Lagos, Hon. Rotimi Olowo said the huge number of aspirants on the platform of the APC was due to the party’s performance. He said the party had delivered on its campaign promises, adding that those who expect the party to implode because of the huge number of aspirants should bury the thought.
“That is what is killing Nigeria today. I make bold to say that those that believe in god-fatherism are the ones destroying the polity, because if you believe that the votes of the masses will count them you must be masses oriented.”
Other parties, including the National Conscience Party (NCP), the Accord Party (AP) and the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), are indifferent to the polls. The parties believe that LASIEC and Lagos State government have an accord which is detrimental to the interest of other political parties.
They say the nomination of some members to LASIEC board was intended to prepare the ground for the rigging of the council polls. The opposition parties had criticised the move, expressing dismay that the coming polls will not conform to the wishes of the people.
Lagos PDP Publicity Secretary Taofiq Gani said the inclusion of Lateef Raji as LASIEC Commissioner to conduct the council polls was a resolve to gag the umpire to do the APC bidding. He said: “Lateef Raji has always been a card-carrying member of party from the days of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the APC. He is unfit and improper to act as umpire in a contest in which the APC is involved.”
Gani urged government to remove the APC members from the board of LASIEC and introduce neutral people to guarantee the transparency of the poll.
Sources from the APC camp say as long as the primary is democratic that there will be no cause to worry. They maintained that the election would be won by the APC in all the council.
Lagos State APGA chieftain Campbell Umeh-Nzekwe said his party will fully participate in the council election. He said with the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, people are going to vote for different parties.
He said: “Lagosians will vote APGA because we have a good programme, our party is grassroots-oriented and nobody can deny us that. This time around we will win some councillorship and chairmanship positions.
The Chairman of the Lagos State Labour Party (LP), Pastor Biodun Popoola, said 16 members of the party are contesting for chairmanship. He noted that the party has councillorship aspirants all over the state. He added: “We are prepared for the election.
It is not going to be the APC or PDP show, because they have not impacted positively on the lives of the people with all the opportunities they have had. Lagosians are prepared to vote them out and elect us in view of our programmes which pro-people.
Culled From : Nation
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