Secrecy shrouds APC primary exercise
• Women group calls for gender equality
• LASIEC, security agents collaborate
There are strong indications yesterday to suggest that the primary elections to pick All Progressives Congress (APC) chairmanship candidates for the July 22 local council election in Lagos State, earlier scheduled for tomorrow, has been put on hold.
Also, the election to pick councillorship aspirants across the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) which was equally scheduled to hold last Saturday did not come up.
While a new date for the exercise has not been communicated to the contestants, the rumour is rife that the party leadership may have compiled the names of anointed candidates without going through the process of voting.
Although the party constitution supports the idea of consensus candidates to prevent intra-party crisis and strengthen the platform, the agreed candidates must go through an acceptability votes of endorsements by delegates before they could legally be declared as candidates.
Sources within the party disclosed that the decision to have the list drawn without following the rules might have been taken to prevent a situation where other strong aspirants would defeat those endorsed by the leadership.
While the National Leader of the APC and former Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has insisted on compensating those who showed loyalty to the party in the 2015 elections with automatic tickets, some aspirants especially from Lagos Island, Surulere and Alimosho, are calling on the Abuja headquarters of the party to wade into the matter and insist on having proper primary election.
Meanwhile, a group, Women Move Now (MWN) has called on both the APC and the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PD) to ensure that considerable number of women emerge as candidates for the chairmanship and councillorship positions in the election.
This is coming as the umpire, Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), appealed to the Police and other security agencies to control all forms of violence, during and after the exercise.
Chairman of LASIEC, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, who made the appeal during a courtesy visit to the State’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni and commandants of the Nigerian Army, Navy and the Air Force, at the 9 Brigade, Ikeja, promised that the commission would engage the security agencies in regular discussions on how to ensure peace and security during the electoral process.
The women group said if more opportunities were granted to females it would motivate them, particularly those in the grassroots, to participate in the exercise.
WMN, a non-partisan organisation, made the call after a roundtable titled: ‘Need for more women representation at the Decision Making level of the Local Governments’ in Lagos recently, saying from its observation of the ruling party a significant number of women belonging to the party, have been screened and cleared as eligible for its primaries in the coming council polls.
Spokesperson of the organisation, Dr. Kezaih Awosika, said, “These women by our assessment represent the trusted and committed cadre of the APC.”
According to her, “As it stands, over 40 per cent of the aspirants for the election are women. It should not be difficult for the party to meet the minimum standard of 30 per cent representation across board.”
The group stated further that over time, it has been established that increased representation of women has had an immediate and important impact on Nigerian politics.
It added that the progress made by Cross River State in relation to winning in 2012 when a woman became chairman and a man becomes the vice or vice-versa, is worthy of emulation by Lagos State as it has led to a high number of women being elected as chairmen or councilors in the local government elections in the state.
At the Police headquarters, Justice Ayotunde said LASIEC had entered into partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to enable every registered voter collect his/her PVC before the elections.
She added that the commission had embarked on sensitisation of the public through the mass media on the ongoing distribution of PVCs in the 245 Registration Area Centres, appealing to all eligible voters to take advantage of the opportunity to collect their voters’ card and show more interest and commitment towards the electoral process.
Ayotunde also pledged that the commission would provide a level playing ground for all political parties and their candidates, stressing, however, that politicians must have confidence in the ability of the commission to conduct a free, fair and credible election into the 57 council areas.
Owoseni however assured LASIEC of his command’s support, noting that the election is part of the statutory functions of the police that must be undertaken.
The police boss also informed LASIEC that his meeting with political parties showed that politicians were not favorably disposed to the commission’s mandatory administrative fees. He therefore urged both parties to resolve the issue amicably.
In response, the army commandant, , Brigadier-General Attu pledged the support of the military, assuring it would provide the necessary security back-up to secure election personnel and election materials, adding that the military was concerned about the menace of militancy and would do everything possible to curb the negative development in the state.
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