As the Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode get set to inaugurate the newly elected chairmen for the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas of the state today, even as the state Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) is yet to officially release the results or issue certificates of return to the winners, as at the time of filling in this report, some people have started to ask, why the hurry? This election of council chairmen and councilors in the state is the first to hold in the state in the last five years and the fixing of the swearing in date for today has put LASIEC on their toes.
Though the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has started congratulating itself for claiming victory in all the 57 LGA and LCDA, going by the press statements from the offices of the party chairman in the state and that of the governor, many people are questioning the credibility of the election and its result in some quarters. The election itself which was marked by voter apathy, late arrival of voting materials and none arrival of materials in some polling units was not a positive to the process. For instance, hours into the commencement of the elections, many polling units had no voters on the queue ready to vote. From observations made at various wards and polling booths in Ifako-Ijaiye, Maryland, Ojota, Ketu, Ikeja among other places, only a handful of voters were seen casting their votes as at 12 noon. At ward E in Ifako-Ijaiye, the few voters available complained of late arrival of voting materials. Similarly at various wards in Oshodi-Isolo, including, Ward D2, many of the polling booths were virtually empty with just a few ballots cast as at 12noon. A similar observation was made at various wards in Ikeja, as residents preferred to turn empty roads into football pitches. Also in Ikosi Ketu, voting materials did not arrive most of the polling units until about 11am despite that the election was billed to commence at 8am. However, voting materials never arrived at the only polling station on Kola Adeyeye Street, in Ikosi, Ketu, even though the Police and party agents were there waiting for the LASIEC officials throughout the period the election was supposed to last, but when the local government LASIEC was contacted they insisted that the electoral officers were dispatched with necessary materials. Still in Ikosi Isheri LCDA, at Olowora Ward A, unit 13 C, LASIEC officials also did not show up, but some opposition Accord Party members alleged that results were written for these places and more by LASIEC officials. However, chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Justice Ayotunde Phillips attributed the delayed take off of the voting process in some parts of the state to heavy downpour that started in the morning of the day. Speaking with newsmen while monitoring some polling units in Yaba area of the state, she said the downpour affected the movements of electoral materials. Justice Philips appealed to those who were yet to vote on the affected area to exercise patience as the commission was addressing the situation. She assured that all eligible voters would vote, as materials were being deployed to the affected areas, adding that the commission would allow some people to vote beyond the 3pm deadline if there was the need to do so. “The delay in the delivery of materials in some areas, hence voting, is caused by the heavy downpour. However, we are addressing the situation and we are assuring that everybody in the affected areas will vote. “Once people have been accredited and are on queue, they will be allowed to vote even after 3pm,” she said. While expressing satisfaction with the peaceful conduct in most areas, Justice Phillips said there were few incidences of violence in some areas, but said security agents had quelled the situation. In Ikeja, after casting his vote in Ikeja the polls at 12:15p.m. at Polling Unit 026 in Ward F, Ikeja LGA, former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, said that the complaints and protests that followed the party’s primaries for council elections in the state showed its popularity. Tinubu told newsmen, “You must have competitiveness if you are a popular party,’’ adding that complaints are normal in democracy He expressed confidence that the protests and complaints would not affect the chances of the party in the council elections. “There is no way you won’t face the turbulence of democracy – the twists and turns and the complaints. “As we have 57 LGAs and LCDAs, the problem is that, to every slot, you have an average of 13 aspirants. That is the popularity of our party. “We can only have one chairman; we can only have one vice; we can only have one ward councillor and you have 18 people in a ward fighting for the seat of a councillor. “Conflict and conflict resolution are the hallmark of democracy. You have to find a way to resolve all conflicts, and we have done so,” Tinubu said. Like, the LASIEC chairman pointed out about disturbances in some places, there is report that indicates that a policeman was among 110 persons arrested for various electoral offences during the election. According to the report, the policeman was arrested in a commercial bus at Agege Local Government Area with electoral materials while escorting two others to an unknown destination. Items recovered from the suspects included tomb printed ballot papers and boxes, witnesses said. Aside the arrests, policemen also recovered a ballot box and some electoral materials from hoodlums who allegedly hijacked them from officials of LASIEC. Explaining reasons for the delay in officially releasing the results, sources at LASIEC explained that the delay in the announcement may not have been unconnected with slight hitches recorded in some council areas, particularly, Agbado-Oke-Odo LCDA, where election was rescheduled in some wards for Sunday. It was also gathered that the chairman prefers to announce all the results after a comprehensive list, most have been collated across the 57 councils, to eliminate speculation. The spokesman of the Commission, Mr. Dapo Olatunde, declined any comment on the development, saying, the chairman will brief the media as soon as the results are ready for public consumption. The 12 parties that contested in the council elections are Accord, Action Alliance (AA), Alliance for Democracy (AD), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), United Democratic Party (UDP), United Progressive Party (UPP), Kowa Party (KP), National Action Council (NAC) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command said it has arrested about 110 suspects for various offences during the local government election which held on Saturday. The Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, said: “As of the time I left the office (on Saturday evening), we should be having about 110 suspects that have been arrested for one thing or the other. There may still be more because we’ve not finished the whole process but as of now, we have close to about 110 suspects in custody.” Mr Owoseni who said he also monitored the process in some areas of the state noted that the police responded promptly to the incidence of violence in some parts of the state. However claiming victory in all the 57 LGAs and LCDAs, the state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday congratulated the APC for recording landslide victory at the local government election in the state, saying that the development was an eloquent affirmation that Lagosians have confidence in the party. Governor Ambode, in a congratulatory message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, said the development was not just a victory for democracy but the people at the grassroots, who he said would experience continuity with improvement in terms of dividends of democracy. The governor said it was particularly gratifying that the party emerged victorious in all the positions not only for the chairmanship positions but also the councillorship, which is the closest to the people. “This victory for us is nothing more than a confirmation of the trust that Lagosians have placed on the party. In that regard, I like to congratulate our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the landslide victory at the Saturday’s election in all the 57 Councils. “I particularly note with joy the peaceful conduct of electorates who came out to exercise their franchise in favour of their preferred candidates despite the heavy rain. This is indeed a welcome development and it will go a long way to strengthen our resolve to push ahead with our vision to transform the local government system, being the closest to the people. “I am also happy that we are conducting the Local Government election during my time after almost six years that the election was last held in the state,” the governor said. While congratulating the LASIEC for the success of the election, Governor Ambode said the outcome of the election was a demonstrable evidence that the people have keyed into his vision to evolve participatory governance especially at the local level, just as he assured that his administration would not relent in promoting good governance both at the state and local government levels. “I also like to congratulate LASIEC and all Lagosians for the success of the election which is reassuring about the culture of participatory democracy we are building in the state. It is on record that Lagosians comported themselves peacefully before, during and after the period of the election and this confirms the readiness of the people to support us all the way in our bid to truly take Lagos State to greater heights. “On our part, we shall continue to work assiduously to move the state forward and make life better and comfortable for the people,” Governor Ambode assured. He, however, urged those aggrieved with the result to channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters rather than resort to self-help. Also following in the same line with the governor, the state chairman of the APC, Chief Henry Oladele Ajomole, congratulated the newly elected Chairmen and Councilors across the 57 Local Government and Council Development Areas in the state for making the party proud in the elections. Chief Ajomole, while congratulating the newly elected council officers specifically thanked all members and supporters of APC in the state for voting for candidates of the party who are expected to run the affairs of local administrations for the next four years in the state. The state party chairman, in the press release issued by his Media Adviser, Peter Ajayi called on the officers who have just been elected to see their election’s victory as a call to service by making sure that their campaign promises are delivered within the time frame of their administration. According to him, the confidence the people of Lagos State have in the party is as a result of the dividends of democracy being delivered by the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led administration across the entire local governments and council development areas. “The chairmen and councilors will only make the party proud by working in their respective local government and council areas to complement efforts of our hard working and People’s Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode”, he said. Ajomole reassured citizens and the people of Lagos State that the party will continue to deliver on her promises at all levels of governments. “People of Lagos State have not regretted voting for the governorship candidate of our great party in the last general election as he has turned out to be the best governor in the country.” According to Chief Ajomale “I hereby call on our new council officers to emulate Governor Ambode who has continued to make us proud in the state by replicating his efforts in their council areas,” he added. However, despite these celebrations, some aggrieved electorates are carrying placards in some areas calling for the cancellation of the election results, and as it stands it is not unlikely that more protests will be recorded in the coming days, but for now the APC has claimed victory and it is their legitimate right to celebrate.