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Pressure for LGA autonomy compels governors to conduct council poll

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Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara PHOTO: TWITTER/DOGARA

The determination of the House of Representatives to pursue autonomy for local government authorities in the constitution might have prompted the current drive by most governors to concede to conduct council elections.

Prior to this time, the governors have been reluctant in the last couple of years, to hold council poll despite several criticisms.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara recently called on Nigerians to lend their voices to the push for financial and administrative autonomy for local governments in the country.

In particular, he urged Nigerians to put pressure on the various State Houses of Assembly across the country, to support autonomous proposals for the councils, following the alleged excesses and mismanagement of councils funds and deprivation of the grassroots people of the right to elect their leaders, which contradicts the tenets and provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

Apart from calling on civil society groups, non-governmental organisations and community based organisations, to stand up and be counted, the Speaker, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give support to the clamour for local government autonomy, as promised in his inaugural address on May 29, 2015.

Following Dogara’s outcry and some other voices prevailing on the governors, states like Lagos, Kebbi, Benue, Oyo, Ebonyi among others are setting the stage to conducting their council elections later in the year.

Kebbi holds election on July 15
For instance, after two years, the Kebbi State Electoral Commission (KESIEC) has fixed July 15 to hold the council elections.

The chairman of KESIEC, Mr. Aliyu Muhammed Mera who disclosed this during a meeting with representatives of parties and stakeholders in Kebbi, said that the date chosen is in accordance with the powers conferred on the commission by the relevant laws.

He revealed that nomination forms, contacts and other relevant documents for the elections would be made available through the secretariat of the Commission.

He charged necessary stakeholders including the electorate to avail themselves with development and they should also commence necessary preparations ahead of the date.

Mera however appealed for support and cooperation from the public towards conducting free, fair, credible and acceptable council election in the State.

PDP’s faction in Lagos alerts on APC’s rigging plans
Following the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) announcement of guidelines, two factions of the PDP in Lagos have been jostling for upper hand over rights to nominate candidates for the election.

A faction led by Moshood El Salvador had announced that it has commenced sale of forms and other necessary documents for the scheduled July 22 local council election in the state. But another faction led by Otunba Segun Adewale yesterday said it has uncovered plans by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to rig the elections.

The faction also warned aspirants who intend to run either for chairmanship and counsellorships on the platform of the PDP to beware of impostors and charlatans.

In a statement issued by Adewale, it alleged that the former deputy national chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George is using disgruntled members like Salvador to destabilise the party in Lagos to achieve the grand plan of frustrating its victory at the poll.

His reaction was coming on the heels of The Guardian story in which the Salvador faction said it has commenced sale of nomination forms to aspirants.

According to Adewale, “Whoever that is selling nomination forms to aspirants other than the executive led by me is doing so illegally. They are out to defraud members that are ignorant of their grand plan to help the APC rig the elections in advance. Once we lay hold of any receipt for such sale of form, whoever that has authorised such sale would be made to face the law.”

He hinged his position on the Port Harcourt Court of Appeal verdict of February 17 that affirmed Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff as the national chairman of the PDP, which he (Adewale) belongs.

According to him, “I have said it repeatedly that our party can only achieve victory at the polls when we all work together as a team. However, Chief George and his team of desperate followers are consistently frustrating all attempts for reconciliation towards any elections.”

He alleged that they are always quick to sell nomination forms just to defraud aspirants of their hard earn monies despite being aware that they do not have the legal backing to represent the party in Lagos.

Adewale however said he has commenced the process to ensure that the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) does deal with any impostor pretending to represent the PDP in the state.

He argued that the Appeal Court judgment in Port Harcourt had laid to rest the argument as to who the national chairman of the PDP is and until the Supreme Court says otherwise, Senator Sheriff remains the national chairman of the PDP.

He added that Sheriff had also written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise the Adewale-led executive in Lagos State as the authentic representatives of the party. “Every other individuals parading as the party’s representatives are impostors seeking to defraud ignorant aspirants.”

Adewale challenged George and every member of his group to showcase their antecedents as regards winning elections for the party over the last 18 years in Lagos.

Said he, “Chief Bode George with his co travelers of failures have never delivered their wards nor polling units to the PDP since the commencement of this democratic dispensation despite the huge resources put in their hands by the then PDP national government.”

He also faulted the honor done to George for the Lagos 50th anniversary describing it as unmerited. According to him, “The present deal with the APC by the Salvador group seems like a payback for the unmerited recognition given to Chief George during the ongoing 50th anniversary celebration.”

He however warned that they would seek appropriate legal redress, including contempt of court, against any impostors seeking to undermine court decisions, saying: “We can no longer seat back and watch impostors deprive the PDP of its deserved victory at the polls especially at the grassroots. We have made available relevant documents to LASIEC and relevant agencies; we will now deal decisively with impostors using all legal means.”

Benue gets sole administrators
Barely seven weeks to the conduct of the local government elections in Benue, scheduled for June 3, Ortom had swore in the 23 Director Generals Services and Administration (DGSA), as new sole administrators for the councils.

According to the governor, the newly sworn in administrators were detailed to set a pace for the peaceful transition of the councils to democratically elected government as well as to ensure comprehensive implementation of policies and programmes of the state and federal government.

The governor said the choice of the DGSAs for the appointment was to cut cost of running government because they were already conversant with the happenings in their areas.

Ortom noted that though the newly appointed administrators are tagged as sole administrators “they must not forget that they are civil servants and must work in line with government policies and with the people.

He warned the administrators not to get involved in partisan politics and not see their position as an opportunity to amass wealth.

“For those vying for elective positions in the local government polls, what you say is critical to peace; therefore do not say or do things that will incite the people against one another and cause breach of peace in your areas,” he warned.



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