Lagos, Ogun Council Polls: Imperative of service at grassroots
The local council elections recently held in Lagos and Ogun States might have been concluded but it has left party faithful in both states assessing their outings with a view to planning for improved performances in future polls.
In Ogun State, the poor turnout of voters and apathy that characterised the just concluded Local Council in Ogun State, observers say, may be an indication of leadership mistrust, which will no doubt negatively impact development at the grassroots in the next three years.
It was observed that majority of the electorate intentionally shunned the polling booths across the three senatorial districts, choosing to stay indoors, in demonstration of their grievance to happenings in the build-up to the election.
Those who spoke to The Guardian expressed fear that the new set of elected political office holders at the councils, might not make any positive impact to transform the fortunes of the people at the grassroots, as they were not the choice of the electorate.
Aside from the fact that the council poll was a one-party affair, as the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was allegedly shut out by the electoral umpire, the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC), allegations of candidates’ imposition also contributed immensely to the poor turnout.
At least, no fewer than 10 council areas were embroiled in pre-election rancour arising from the imposition of candidates by the party.
Another issue that caused the apathy was the isolation of a faction of the party, which warned its members against participating in the poll, based on what it termed absence of internal democracy.
The Guardian reliable gathered that the poll has not only further exposed the alleged lingering acrimony within the party, it has further polarised it along different lines.
For instance, the immediate past Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, who is the sitting Senator representing Ogun Central and his followers, shunned the poll. A chieftain of the party, Aremo Olusegun Osoba was also absent, likewise the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. It was further learnt that the two other Senators representing Ogun West and East were conspicuously absent during the poll, just as a handful of House of Representative members were also absent.
In Lagos, however, it was a different stroke. While some observers perceived that there was a level of apathy on election day, the rank of the party was not broken as faithful, having been rallied by the leader of the party in Lagos, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, turn out with a common front.
The July 24 local government elections produced smiles and tears, losers and winners, heroes and villains as well as additional feathers to the political caps of some politicians and political gladiators at state, local government and ward levels. One of those who got a notch in their belt after the keenly contested election was Governor Sanwo-Olu for successfully continuing the legacy of the ruling party by sweeping all seats during election.
Also, the election was adjudged to be one of the freest and fairest. There was no single report of breakdown of law and order, ballot box snatching, fighting and other vices associated with elections of that magnitude.
Since the return of Nigeria to civilian administration and birth of Fourth Republic in May 29, 1999, Lagos State has remained one of the few states in the country being run by same political alliance. Lagos State has never left the path of the progressive politics at both the state and local government levels.
The first governor in the Fourth Republic, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu came into power under the auspices of Alliance for Democracy (AD), which metamorphosed into Action Congress (AC) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Through this political transition, the party’s focus on bottom up developmental initiatives did not change. The Local Council administration was at the centre of every action plan. This accounted for the creation of 37 more Local Councils Development Areas by the Bola Tinubu administration aimed at bringing governance closer to the grassroots.
The development continued under the All Progressives Congress (APC), which came into being in 2014 after the merger between the ACN, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and factions of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Two years after, the ruling party swept the 20 local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) chairmanship seats and also won 370 out of the 377 councillorship seats during the 2017 council elections in the State. Same feat was repeated during the election that produced the incumbent Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the fourth governor of Lagos State in the present Fourth Republic.
According to keen followers of Lagos politics, Governor Sanwo-Olu is also guarding the ‘legacy’ jealously as his emergence as governor has strengthened the ruling party in the State, going by his developmental strides in the last two years. Sanwo-Olu’s ‘Greater Lagos’ vision, which he is already bringing to life through the THEMES development agenda has been a blessing to the political fold.
Sanwo-Olu has shown leadership in Lagos State by through good governance to since his assumption of office on May 29, 2019. His achievements have earned him recognitions and awards locally and nationally as one of the best performing governors in Nigeria. This perhaps explains why the recent landslide victory of APC in the State local government elections across the 57 councils and 377 wards did not surprise. It was a testament of the developmental strides of the Governor, which has made the All Progressives Congress the best option for the residents.
As the number one citizen in Lagos, a lot was expected from Sanwo-Olu as many entrusted him to deliver for his party. And as a seasoned administrator and manager of human and resources, the Governor never disappointed. He was fully involved in the party’s electioneering as he joined thousands of party chieftains and members in presenting APC flag to chairmanship candidates at the party’s secretariat on Sunday July 18.
The governor added that the local government is a critical arm of government, saying, “We have three tiers of government and everybody has their roles and responsibilities. But as a state government, we will continue to ensure that our development agenda is spread across the state and because we own all the local governments we will ensure it is reflective in all local governments and that is what we are doing.
“So, what we expect from them is to key into our agenda. So that when they come in, they can also hit the ground running in all the wards that we have. We expect them to start work immediately. The state government will carry out some projects in the wards but we expect complimentary roles from these chairmen; we expect them to compliment that and do more.”
After the event, Governor Sanwo-Olu didn’t go to sleep; he worked more and talked less to ensure that the ruling party continues its dominance in Lagos politics. Given the fact that he walks his talk, he rolled out the strategic framework with leaders and members of the party, dotted his I’s and crossed his T’s, mapped out his strategies and capitalised on the strength of the party across the 57 councils of the state to ensure that APC won in all polling units.
Undoubtedly, the input and influence of Sanwo-Olu and his determination to work with other stakeholders in the party across the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs was an added advantage to APC’s victory in the last council polls as the party leaders and members irrespective of their differences worked together towards winning the hearts of the electorate.