Lagos APC follows national trend, wins landslide in council poll

Justice Ayotunde Philips

Once again, the penchant of ruling political parties at the state level to record landslide victories in local council elections organised by their governments, has been repeated in Lagos.

As the results announced yesterday by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), showed, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had a clean sweep of last Saturday’s election to elective positions in the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), which were up for grab.

The announced results, in which the APC won every single position in a contest that involved 12 political parties, did not differ from the norm where incumbent governors usually have their way by suppressing the opposition.

Interestingly, the hopes of opposition parties in Lagos to take advantage of the APC intra-party crisis caused by chairmanship and councillorship primaries held on February 27, were dashed as the ruling party did not only clear the 57 chairmanship positions but also succeeded in winning all the councillorship seats.

In all the 12 states where council elections have been conducted, the ruling parties have always recorded landslide victories that are obviously results of suppression of opposition using the instruments of government to have their way.

For instance, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations in Abia, Gombe, Ondo and Taraba won the council elections in the states while the APC in Ogun, Adamawa, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara did similar in the states under its control.

Taking a look at the intrigues that charaterised the council election in Lagos before Saturday, the APC was obviously in crises over its controversial primaries, which generated a lot of reactions as many of its members protested and also vowed to work against the party’s interest at the poll.

The rancour continued until about three days to the election when the State House of Assembly, suddenly and in a surreptitious manner, amended the Electoral Law, which was also signed into law same day by the governor, Akinwumi Ambode.

It was reported that the amendment to the law which provided legislative cover for the APC’s inability to harmonise its candidates list and have it submitted within the stipulated period, passed through all required processes within ten minutes.

The previous law stated that names of candidates for elective position must be submitted and cleared by the commission 23 days before the exercise, which the APC clearly failed to meet. The party however used its position and majority in the House of Assembly to amend the law overnight to have its way.

Part of the implication was that the legislative process to amend the LASIEC Law came after the decision of the High Court of Lagos State, which nullified the imposition of a candidate from Odi-Olowo/ Ojuwoye LCDA.

The amendment process did not also take into consideration the interest of other political parties and neither did it consider the opinions or perception of the public and hence there was no need for public hearing before the amendment was made.

Going by the outcome of the election, the APC is now in total control of all the political apparatus and elected positions in the state, a situation, which political observes said have cleared the way for Ambode and his political mentor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to have their way come 2019, when the incumbent governor would be going for a second term.

Reacting yesterday, the Spokesman of the Labour Party (LP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alliance, Mr. Taofik Gani said the election should be cancelled, particularly in Mafoluku Oshodi where he alleged that four ballot boxes were stuffed in his presence.

According to him, “I advise Governor Ambode to direct the LASIEC boss to cancel the elections. That is apart from the fact that the election material came late. We also discover that 95 of the ad hoc staff used by LASEC are APC members.”He lamented that the ruling party used the kangaroo amendment to suppress opposition parties in the exercise.

In another reaction, the LP chairman, Pastor Biodun Popoola said the election was a disappointment and that it fell short of the expectations of the electorate. He alleged, “In almost every part of Lagos State, APC, thugs in collaboration with some LASIEC officials snatched ballot boxes. We are therefore calling on LASIEC to cancel the election and conduct fresh elections.”

But the APC Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe commended the process, saying, “It went in a seamless manner.”Describing the election as a peaceful exercise, he said, “We are not surprised by the result we are getting because we campaigned as if there was formidable opponent in place. The infighting within the PDP was a major factor that weakened it’s chances; in fact, 24 hours to the election there was still confusion in the opposition camp.”

Factional Chairman of PDP, Mr. Segun Adewale noted that the poll could have been the best time to dislodge APC “if not for the discordant tunes within his party.”According to him, the leadership crisis has caused the party so many misfortunes and that the LP/PDP alliance was a disaster.

According to him, the PDP alliance with LP is to reduce the influence of some leaders who were working to give way to APC.He said the process of the election was flawed from the beginning “My younger sister was beaten by APC thugs at Pipeline at Agbado Oke Odo LCDA when she complained against rigging in a polling unit. The election was programmed to make APC win. As far as I am concerned, there was no election. In most polling units, there were ballot papers for councillorship but no ballot papers for chairmanship.”

Meanwhile a lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo Constituency 1 at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Olusola Sokunle said he was satisfied with the process, as he applauded LASIEC for the effective conduct of the election.

Sokunle stated that despite the weather condition the electorate still came out en mass to decide whom they wanted as their council leaders, saying, “the behaviour of voters was an indication that Lagosians appreciate the good work of Governor Ambode.”

He said with the outcome of the local government election, the people of Lagos are in strong democratic tie with the APC government in the state, stressing further that it will be hard for any opposition party to wrestle power from the governor.”

According to him, “Saturday voting behaviour by the electorate tells us that no opposition party can wrestle power from APC in Lagos come 2019. It shows Lagosians appreciate Ambode’s efforts in ensuring that the citizens feel the dividends of democracy.”

He assured the people for the continuous delivery of dividends of democracy by Governor Ambode, saying that the House of Assembly would continue to support the Governor through making laws that would encourage good governance in the state.

MEANWHILE, some members of the ruling party yesterday expressed discontent over the absence of the Minster of Power, Housing and Works or of Lagos State and Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to mobilise for the party during the council poll on Saturday.

The former governor was said to have been conspicuously absent at Ward G3, Unit 002, State Senior Grammar School, Itolo, where he normally votes.Some APC stalwarts feel that the former governor ought to have led by example by showing up in Lagos to cast his vote as other top leadership of the party did.

Even the National leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was believed to have travelled out of the country came back to cast his vote at his Polling Unit 047, Sunday Adigun Street, Alausa, Ikeja, while Governor Ambode also voted at his polling unit in Epe.

Octogenarian and first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande despite his constraints came out to vote at the council election, braving the heavy downpour.

Party faithful are of the view that as a minister representing Lagos State at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the former governor’s absence at his polling unit was inexcusable, while questioning his love for the state.

Results strengthened Ambode’s second term ambition
The outcome of last Saturday’s election has however solidified the second term ambition of Ambode ahead of the 2019 governorship election as the governor’s chances of winning the APC governorship primary, if the leadership of the party so decides, is assured with his loyalists in charge of the 20 local government and the 37 LCDA’s.

Compared to APC’s failure at the recently conducted Osun West senatorial bye-election where the andidate of the rival PDP won, Ambode has proven to be in total control of Lagos politics unlike his counterpart in Osun, Rauf Aregbesola.

Unless the court says otherwise, if the results of the exercise were challenged, the governor and his political mentor, Tinubu are completely in charge of the politics of Lagos.

On the other hand, the election also revealed that all is not well in the camp of the ruling party as the National Legal Adviser of the APC, Dr. Muiz Banire challenged his party in a suit over the primary as he also faulted the speedy process of the amendment of the LASIEC Law.

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