Uncertainty Over Delayed Council Poll



…As Ambode Awaits Buhari’s Assent On LCDAs

THE much-anticipated Local Government Election in Lagos State may not come as soon as expected by political parties and residents of the state.
According to an All Progressives Congress (APC) source in the state, aspirants seeking elective political offices and their parties would have to wait for a long time for the coast to be clear.
The Guardian can exclusively reveal that three factors are being considered by the Governor, Akinwumi Ambode and bigwigs of the party in the state before a decision on the next council poll is reached.

One is the alleged cash crunch that has hit the state. It was learnt that a whooping billion is needed to conduct election into the 20 councils and 37 development areas and based on the state’s lean purse, it would take a miracle to get the kind of fund for now.

The second factor is the much-awaited dream of turning the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) to full-fledged councils that would be entitled to allocations from the government at the centre. It was gathered that Ambode and APC in the state are wooing President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the long overdue request of legalising the 37 LCDAs before he could embark on setting machinery in motion for the conduct of the poll.

Another factor, considered paramount by our source, for the delay is the need for the party to re-strategise, in order to capture some, if not all the areas it lost to opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the general elections. It should be noted that unlike in 2011 when APC won all the 40 seats in the House of Assembly, in the last election, it won 32 seats, while the PDP won eight.

At present, seven months after the exit of democratically elected officials, the delay is already raising fresh doubt on the possibility of conducting the poll.

It was expected that duly elected officials should have taken over the affairs of the councils, but against all expectations, the interim executive secretaries installed last January by former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola to manage the affairs of the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas (LCDAs) are still holding sway.

At the swearing-in of the transition committees, Fashola said, “the officers were inaugurated to serve in transitional capacity till the end of March, hoping that by then all will have been sorted out with the voter register, and then we go to the elections to elect officers into all levels in the local government structure.” But he never deemed it fit to conduct the poll till the expiration of his tenure.

Even the State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) has no answer to this evolving scenario. According to a reliable source in LASIEC, there is no visible date for the conduct of the poll.

All efforts to speak with the main opposition party, PDP Publicity Secretary, Taofik Gani on the development was futile, even the calls made across to the mobile phone of the chairman of the Conference of Political Parties (CNPP), Akinola Obadia were not picked.

But a councillorship aspirant, Temitope Odubela, appealed to the state government and other stakeholders to quickly work out the modalities of ensuring that the poll is conducted to move government closer to the grassroots.

The last election that ushered in the council officials, whose tenure expired on October 29, 2014 was held on October 21, 2011.

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