By Otunba Ahmed Adekunle
In a recent advertorial published in some national dailies by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), titled “Notice of Election” and went on to issue what it called “Time Table for Election”, the commission made it abundantly clear that Chairmanship and Councillorship positions were going to be contested for in the 20 Local Government and 37 Local Council Development Areas in the State, on July 24, 2021.
The commission then went on to release what it called guidelines which ostensibly began April 21 to end by July 22, 2021.
For the avoidance of doubt, we like to state categorically that LASIEC only has right to conduct election into the constitutionally designated 20 Local Government Councils—not the 37 Local Council Development Areas as allowed by law!
Going ahead to do so would be tantamount to violation of the provisions of section 3(6). 7 and the first schedule Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended. The move will also be interpreted as disobedience to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is important we emphasize that LASIEC must listen to the voice of rationality and desist from this obviously tele-guided Agenda and save the nation needless distress.
Instead of helping to seek ways of defeating the security challenges facing the nation, it is disheartening that some elements are struggling to perpetuate their hold on the reins of governance in the State by trying to enforce this illegality.
The Local Government Areas (Amendment) Law of Lagos 2004 made it crystal clear in section 1 which explicitly admits that until the National Assembly passes an act to make consequential provisions with respect to the names of the said additional Local Government Areas as provided for under section 8(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, they shall remain “Inchoate and Inoperative!”
This means that the said 37 local Government Council Areas are recognized only as “partly in existence”
This is why LASIEC, to quote the law, has no constitutional authority and statutory competence to conduct election into the 37 additionally created Local Councils that has question mark!
Even the Supreme Court of Nigeria –the apex court in the land –reinforces this view while throwing more light on the matter in the case between Attorney General of Lagos State and Attorney General of the Federation SC70/2004 as follows: “The new Local Government Areas can’t take effect until the National Assembly passes the consequential Act under section 8, subsection (5) of the Constitution, to give life to those creations”.
From this ruling, only the 20 local Government Areas can enjoy being headed by democratically elected personalities.
Should LASIEC stick to its guns and go ahead to conduct elections as stated in its time table, that would amount to administrative arrogance and rascality which is not needed at this time the nation is facing some security challenges.
LASIEC should brave the odds and uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not give the impression that they are being teleguided from certain quarters.
Should they refuse to heed the position of the law, they would be opening the grounds for that very interpretation; the State being multi-diverse and ethnic does not need this aberration at this time of our national existence.
Right now, LASIEC is unfortunately giving the impression that this is the case between the “horse and the horse rider”—a shadowy piper dictating the tune of events! Some hideous forces who are bent on perpetuating their hold on power and feeding fat on the State treasury!
We need not remind LASIEC that Lagos State is multi-diverse and ethnic with several other political parties involved. Did LASIEC consult with other political parties outside the All-Progressive Congress before releasing this time table?
These are pertinent questions to be addressed before embarking on such a heavy democratic enterprise. The people of Lagos State deserve a free and unfettered access to determine their fate; it is wrong for any organization to continue to arrogate to themselves the powers and authority of legal instruments like LASIEC.
The people want structures that are sustainable and can discharge its functions to the improvement of their welfare, security and safety—not a motley group of people trying to commandeer every opportunity to foster good governance for their selfish interest
We state unequivocally here that LASIEC must toe the path of responsibility and save the State from forces bent on using undemocratic procedures to enthrone charlatans and consolidate their grip on the reins of governance.
Any deviation from this advice will be legally challenged completely
Lagos State is too strategic to be allowed to drift endlessly without a check. If anything, this is the time to do that. Proper elections must henceforth be conducted within stipulated time and areas.
Otunba Ahmed Adekunle is the Chairman United Foundation for Survival & Sustainability