By Chinelo Obogo
The national general secretary of the National Conscience Party(NCP), Ayodele Akele has said as a result of the guidelines by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) that most of its candidates for forthcoming council elections have been disenfranchised. He also spoke on the lawsuit filed by his party against the commission which he said is yet to be heard.
How prepared is your party for the forthcoming council polls?
Our party is prepared, but we want to raise the alarm on the developments around the impending July 22 2017 Local Government Elections in Lagos. First, it is important that we alert the public of the fact that an election into Councils is not holding on July 22; what is actually been planned by the All Progressives Congress (APC), is an imposition of APC handpicked elements on our Local Government Councils. In essence, the consequence of this would be a torturous continuation of the anti-people programs in the Lagos Local Government areas.
The hard facts on the ground confirm this reality. First, as we speak today, 77 candidates of the NCP for the Lagos Council Elections have been denied forms and registration by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) using guidelines imposed on the impending elections. The NCP had organized its primaries peacefully since May 20 2017 in the presence of three representatives of LASIEC and the list had been submitted formally to LASIEC since then. In spite of all these, NCP candidates were not given the electoral forms when the NCP Lagos State leadership requested for them, in effect, we have been ostracized along with millions of people that can never meet the conditions imposed by LASIEC.
It is important to also inform that unlike LASIEC, INEC forms are available online free of charge for party candidates to download fill and submit with the supporting documents. In the case of LASIEC, the agency in spite of the public funds at its disposal appropriated for the elections, it does not even have a website or serious email. Why must INEC forms be free and LASIEC forms are not? What we would continue to stand against is a situation where LASIEC imposes guidelines that negates basic democratic principles and are totally different from the established INEC basic standards, which to an extent are democratic.
INEC did not demand for three years tax clearance, residence card/permit, money, etc, from Governor Akinwunmi Amode for the 2015 elections, why must LASIEC’s case be different? Where is the precedence?
Second, what is also quite worrying is the fact that the NCP has since filed a lawsuit against LASIEC in Lagos State High Court since May 12 2017 over these guidelines with an Affidavit of Urgency attached, but as we speak, two months after, the lawsuit has not yet been heard by any judge in a Lagos State High Court. Now, they are saying the courts are going on vacation by July 17 2017. We believe there is a conspiracy to stop our lawsuit from been heard at all cost before the elections take place using crude and wicked bureaucratic methods. That our lawsuit against LASIEC has not yet been heard two months after in spite of an Affidavit of Urgency is a major indictment on the entire Lagos State Judiciary. Already, we have also put in place the process of petitioning the National Judicial Council (NJC). It is necessary to alert the world that the bulk of the documents tendered in the official counter affidavit by LASIEC in our unheard lawsuit belong to NCP impostors that never went to court in the first place or a party to the suit and not the real leadership of Lagos NCP. It is on the grounds of these forgeries that LASIEC is calling for the lawsuit to be thrown out of court. For example, the printed list of our 77 candidates had been replaced by a handwritten list of 49 names of these impostors. These impostors that LASIEC is plotting with against the NCP are elements that have excused themselves from NCP a while ago due to their refusal to comply with the democratic principles and norms of the party and failure of their attempt to force onto the party an impeached officer who had been indicted of all sorts of criminal activities.
Are there factions in the NCP?
LASIEC had earlier written to INEC seeking for clarification on the status of NCP and who is the official leadership, and INEC had replied them with the list of the real NCP leadership in Lagos which is the present crop of Lagos State Exco led by Fatai Ibuowo. However, in spite of INEC’s clarification, majority of the documents in NCP’s file with LASIEC were from impostors.
What is wrong with LASIEC’s guidelines?
Based on the LASIEC guidelines, no worker or downtrodden however credible or no matter his pedigree can contest in this LG council polls. We should ask how many people living on less than a dollar per day can afford to part with N50,000.00 for a form? How many workers can afford to resign from their jobs six months before the elections? What happens to them if they don’t win? Why are they not calling on business owners to foreclose their entire business before contesting? How many unemployed or workers with low wages or unpaid pensioners can produce three year tax clearance? Why should candidate have Lagos resident card when the card is not legal in the first instance? What we are fighting for is the political party of the toiling masses and youth of Nigeria.
The NCP does not charge a Kobo for any form for its internal elections nor does it impose undemocratic conditions within it. The NCP is determined to lead this struggle and we are already broadening the base of the struggle by involving the various organizations of the working masses and downtrodden. We are determined to continue with our legal and political struggle against these guidelines in spite of the obstacles been put up.
We are insisting that all our 77 candidates be allowed to contest in the Local Government elections in Lagos and all the undemocratic guidelines be dropped.