When immediate past Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola dissolved the Local Governments and appointed executive secretaries in their place, expectations were high for the conduct of fresh poll to fill the vacancies, particularly after Fashola told the caretaker committees that they would not spend more than six months for the state government to conduct election into the local governments. He also barred the executive secretaries from contesting in the anticipated election.
Controversy soon trailed the affair as the government started singing a different tune after the six months expiration. The 2015 general elections were approaching and there was uncertainty in the air as to the popularity of the ruling APC to battled the increasingly popular opposition PDP. virtually a year since the appointment of the current executive secretaries of the local government councils in Lagos State to administer the area councils, many are asking question.
They are calling on the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, to conduct election into the 20 local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas. In fact the three year tenure of the Chairmen had expired before the instruction by Fashola, as they were elected into office on October, 2011, they were allowed to stay as compensation for backing the party to win 2011 governorship election. Several of the council chairmen as at that time have been in power since 2008, and running the affairs of the council with the supervision of the local government commissioner, Mr. Ademorin Kuye, who before his appointment as commissioner in 2007 was the Chairman of Somolu local government. Mr. Kuye was empowered to supervise the activities of the former council chairmen, because of his position as the Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
It is right to note that the removal of the council chairmen and the appointment of the executive secretaries by Fashola generated controversy in the party as some of the ex-council chairmen worked against the choice of Fashola’s successor at the governorship primaries election of the party. They all queued behind Mr. Ambode who eventually won the ticket and the governorship election. Nevertheless as new government emerges there is no indication that the government might conduct election into the local governments as they were still run by the executive secretaries appointed by Fashola without no substantial supervision by the ministry of local government but the party, the act which analysts argued were totally contrary to the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Lagos State has berated Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the state House of Assembly for refusing to conduct elections into the state’s local government councils. The Lagos PDP described the government and the House’s refusal to conduct the local council polls as a demonstration of their lack of commitment and sincerity. In a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Taofik Gani, the PDP said the delay in the conduct of the council elections showed that Ambode was not prepared to govern Lagos in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The statement read, “Governor Ambode has opted to turn the state into a kangaroo republic where the norms of good governance are violated. The PDP wants the Lagos State House of Assembly not to approve any expenditure to any ministry and the local councils until those institutions are legally and properly constituted.
We are shocked that the APC and Ambode are confirming their inability to continue to govern Lagos State. How can one explain that Ambode does not have a cabinet even when he took over from a predecessor who is a member of his party? “The transition that should ordinarily be smooth is now disjointed because of the inefficiency of the governor and his party. This is a violation of the Constitution. The state must have Commissioners and the continual delay in appointing Commissioners and aides, to us, is a deliberate plan to clean up the mess in the various ministries and departments. Similarly, the governor is presiding over a government that is alien to our 1999 constitution, section 7 of which guarantees only democratically elected local council leaders.
The tenure of the last council leaders expired in October, 2014”. The Lagos PDP alleged that Ambode’s attempt to reform the local government system was actually an excuse for not holding the council elections, describing it as an alibi; “This is just an alibi to avoiding council polls, knowing full well that his party is not popular at the grass roots. Unfortunately, the House of Assembly is abetting this illegal agenda. A serious House of Assembly should summon the governor to explain why he should continue to spend the state’s resources at this time without commissioners and democratically elected local council leaders”.
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Abiodun Tobun, representing Epe 1 Constituency, described the call by the PDP for the conduct of local government election as unnecessary, saying that the state government is not afraid of conducting the elections at the right time. He explained that the Lagos State government in time immemorial has been having the local governments under elected executive chairmen, adding that the inability of INEC to submit voters register to the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) for usage is causing delay in conducting the election. “INEC refused to release the list of electorate in Lagos for LASIEC to use and to plan the election. We cannot do anything contrary to the provision of the law”, said Tobun.
He added that the Lagos State law empowers the governor to appoint the caretaker committee for local governments for three months, adding that the appointment was renewable. He explained that the state government does not want to disenfranchise any eligible citizen in the forthcoming local government election, stressing that the INEC was not sincere about releasing the voters list for LASIEC so that the election could be held as quick as possible.
“There is no sincerity in what INEC is doing in terms of not releasing the comprehensive voters register in Lagos for LASIEC to plan the election. It is not that the Lagos State government is not ready to conduct election, but the INEC then was never ready to cooperate with the LASIEC to have the necessary document for the election”, said Tobun. He assured that the state government would conduct the local government election after the expiration of the tenure of the executive secretaries in the next three months, stressing that the Lagos House of Assembly would ensure the state government does the right things according to the law. As things stand now, there is no knowing what in the matter as the state government is yet to make a statement on the matter.
-Several months after they were dissolved ostensibly to pave the way for the conduct of fresh poll, LG Governments across the state are yet to be fully operational according to the Constitutional stipulation, fueling brickbats between the ruling APC and opposition PDP writes Paul Yovo