For Lagos APC, more headaches as council poll approaches

Justice Ayotunde Philips

• Stakeholders petition Abuja
•LP hopes to reap from crisis
• ‘Election a ruling party’s coup’

Expectations that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would depart from the attitude of defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), of leaders imposing candidates on members during elections, may have been misplaced as the Lagos State local government elections scheduled for July 22 approaches.

Contrary to what Article 20 of the party constitution says on elections, that all party posts prescribed or implied by the constitution shall be filled by democratically conducted elections, the leadership in Lagos has decided to foist 18 out of the 57 candidates expected to contest on its platform, on the members.

This has continued to generate intense heat within the party. Yesterday, some aggrieved members insisted that the party should conduct free, fair and credible primary or face the wrath of the people.

In a petition titled: “Protest against imposition of candidates in Lagos State at the forthcoming local council election,” some aggrieved members of the party in Lagos Island, while calling for justice for all aspirants in the affected councils, urged the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Lagos State Chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale and the National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire to ensure that the party conduct a free, fair and credible election as stipulated in its constitution for the primary.

The petition, which was signed by Lukman Rabiu, Afolabi Gbeoyega, Rasheed Eniafe, Gbolahan Kafaru, Ajibola Rafatu Feranmi Ajigbotoluwa, Inimidun Kolawole, Rachael Thompson, Kokobiri Muhammed and Aolat Morafa reads: “We the concerned members of APC in Lagos Island wishes to use this medium to formally registered our protest against imposition of aspirants in the forthcoming council election in Lagos.

The petitioners stated it was a breach of the party’s constitution for former governor of the state and the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has been fingered as the brain behind the decision as well as the State Executive Council (SEC) and the Governor Advisory Council (GAC), to pronounced an act of imposition at the last APC stakeholders meeting held on May 10, 2017 that there would be a automatic tickets for some former chairmen elected on the platform of defunct ACN in 18 local government, which Lagos Island is among.

Beyond the petition, it was also revealed that the leadership of the party deliberately sidelined some of the members that were not of the ACN wing of the party.

According to a source, “the reason we are complaining was that all the moves in the Lagos chapter in the last two years have never been favourable to those of us who are from the CPC, ANPP and APGA wings of the party. If anybody thinks that APC is one in Lagos, this election is a clear indication that the leadership respects those from the wing of ACN more than others. We think the national headquarters should quickly intervene.”

Spokesman of the party, Joe Igbokwe dismissed the rumour that the party has postponed its primary, saying, “The exercise will hold as scheduled across the local governments.”

He however affirmed the position of the party to return the 18 former local chairmen who have served in the past to complete their two terms while there would be primary in other places.

Igbokwe said there is no basis for anybody to complain of imposition “if it benefits them they would not have gone to the media to cry foul.” On the argument that the decision contradicts the party’s constitution, Igbokwe said, “This has been a recurrent incident and Nigerians know APC for that. For instance, there are local governments where there are more than 30 to 40 aspirants; the party needs to look for the best and most popular among them to bear its flags against its opponents. We are in this contest to win therefore it is not politically right to play up internal democracy in a race we are likely to lose if we plan otherwise.”

He also dismissed the allegation that Tinubu singlehandedly imposed the decision. “The decision to return the 18 chairmen was taken at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the party’s secretariat and only one person raised objection.”

In another development, a reliable source within the State’s chapter PDP told The Guardian yesterday that except a miracle happens between today and July 22 to resolve the factional crisis in the party, “there are the possibilities that the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee-led faction of the PDP in Lagos would contest the council poll on another platform.”

Although, Publicity Secretary of the party, Taofik Gani denied the plan to defect, there are strong indications that the faction loyal to Makarfi might move if the present logjam persists beyond expectation. He said the leadership of the Makarfi faction would hold its councillorship verification exercise today at the various wards.

He stated further that the aspirants have been educated on the developments in the PDP with respect to the strong suspicion that some moles have concluded plans to frustrate the list of PDP loyal to Makarfi. “As such they will be verified for eligibility to contest under the platform best fit and proper for our success.”

He disclosed that Dr. Remi Akitoye, former acting national secretary of the party would head the councillorship screening committee. LP state chairman, Pastor Biodun Popoola said the party, having considered the calculations on ground particularly happenings in the two major parties, has urged the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) to postpone the deadline for the primaries.

According to him, “This would enable LP to have enough time to accommodate all aggrieved members of the PDP and APC, who may want to use our platform to text their political strengths.

Popoola also said the LP would ensure that more women, youths and handicap people were part of the candidates it will produce for the council poll.

Meanwhile, National Conscience Party (NCP) has expressed reservations about the ability of the LASIEC to conduct a free, fair and credible exercise.

The party, after several failed efforts to make LASIEC come to term with it and other opposition parties on issues pertaining to the its preparation and composition towards the election, said it was left with no option but to drag the umpire to court for a redress.

Chairman of the party, Fatai Ibuowo in a conversation with The Guardian, said, “It has become necessary to alert Nigerians about the plot by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to rig the council elections using LASIEC, which is under the full control of the ruling party.

“We issued a press statement immediately after LASIEC placed the notice of the elections on April 7 2017, in which we expressed our fear that the umpire, as it is currently constituted, cannot organise any credible election.”

The party said, “Since October 2014, when the elections were supposed to have been conducted, APC has done everything possible to undermine the process and imposed its handpicked party loyalists to compose LASIEC. This is the usual practice of APC in other sates when it comes to council poll.”

It pointed to the fact that in the last 18 years, Lagos has been a one-party state with the APC in absolute control and alleged that it has been using deceitful means to run the affairs in collaborations with few others.

According to the party, “Not only has the party been running the local government illegally and undemocratically since the tenure of former Governor Babatunde Fashola, the State House of Assembly has always collaborated with the APC-led administration by making unconstitutional laws to further undermine the autonomy of the council and also set up a LASIEC made up of party faithful to act as government’s puppet.”

NCP said it was on record that APC refused to obey the court judgment it secured against it in regard to the imposition of their members as caretaker committees in the 57 councils adding, “the ruling party agenda ahead of July 22, is to crudely impose itself through cruel rigging method.”

Expressing fears that there are plans to perfect the outcome of the elections to favour the ruling party, NCP said, “With all the details available, it is clear that the impending elections under the current leadership of LASIEC, is going to be a sham, a coup against masses of Lagos and a crude continuation of the ruling party at the council level.”

The party also accused LASIEC of not having a functional website and email server, saying “the website published on their letterhead leads nowhere and the one available on the Internet is directly owned by the state government. This is in spite of it’s over N360 million budget and N3 billion marked out for the elections. All the guidelines of the impending elections are not available online and we know that the purpose is to consciously keep the public in the dark about their sinister agenda.

“The guidelines of the elections were only in the APC supported newspapers. This was after the stakeholders’ meeting with political parties where they first mentioned the undemocratic guidelines. It is on record that the NCP and several other parties strongly opposed these irrational guidelines along with the decision of the agency not to use electronic card readers for the elections. In spite of these opposition the agency went ahead to publish the guideline on April 14 2017.”



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