Democracy and delayed LG poll in Lagos
In January this year the outgoing governor swore in 57 Executive Secretaries for 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs instead of holding elections when their tenures expired in December 2014 . That was clearly a misuse of power and authority; that should not be a legacy to be proud o .
Announcement in the media the other day said he was billed to launch his book entitled The Example: The Era of Babatunde Raji Fashola as the Governor of Lagos State and that he would speak at the Public Lecture Series of The Institute of Directors on the topic ‘My Stewardship: Eight Years of Delivering Excellence’ as the institute’s guest speaker.
Undoubtedly, the fact that the governor has appointed Executive Secretaries to head the local governments in his state rather than have elections as expected in a democratic dispensation puts a stigma on his claim to excellence in terms of service delivery during his tenure to celebrate as a democratically elected governor of the state .
By inference, by simply not allowing the elections to take place at the local government level which is the grassroots of our democracy he has done worse than even a military dictatorship which rules by force .
So, how can he claim excellence at his exit as a true democrat? On the issue of local government elections, the outgoing governor is no doubt leaving office as a dictator rather than a promoter and lover of democracy in Lagos State in particular. That is the truth about his legacy.
One can hazard a guess or two on his motive for this but the fact has to be stated first. Some have said the fear of the All Progressives Congress (APC) losing the local government elections on the eve of the 2015 elections was a factor. It was felt his government was becoming unpopular and the loss of the local government polls would sound a death knell for the ruling party in the general elections .
But then that was to be expected, and the anti dote was to have had a good record of performance for eight years of two terms in office .
Nothing best illustrates poor performance and deceit on the part of his administration than the news that after cajoling the commercial motorcyclists or ‘Okada’ riders to vote for his candidate at the last governorship election which his party won, the state government has reverted to enforcing the routes which were opened for them during the campaigns and pre-election period.
Of course the state government’s hands were forced by the successful strategy of Jimi Agbaje of the PDP who rode to a campaign rally on an Okada, a strategy that drew tremendous applause and admiration from the Lagos electorate whose sympathy was with the Okada people because of t heir functionality and convenience in making people move around the state on an affordable means of transport .
Now that the APC has won the election, government has gone back on its words and the world is to become bleak and painful again for Okada riders and their millions of commuters . That simply means the people of the state have been taken for a ride by a government that wooed Okada drivers only to disappoint them after securing their votes .
Certainly, there is need to remind the outgoing governor about democratic norms and nuances as well as the need for elections to hold as and when due as in any other democracy.
Elections are the rituals of democracy to check poor performance in office which is usually visited with voters disenchantment in voting out those who did not use power well while in office. That certainly was the impression that the governor created when he did not allow elections to hold but delayed till after the conclusion of the general elections.
Whether the governor likes it or not he is postponing the evil day of reckoning for his party as Lagos State is not a one-party state as the 2015 elections have shown with the brilliant performance of Jimi Agbaje.
Lagosians cannot wait long enough to get even with the APC despite the electoral fear of the outgoing governor in not organising the election into councils as required by the law.
Definitely, there is nothing excellent about such an undemocratic legacy.
• Dimeji is a public commentator based in Lagos.
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