FATAi Ibu-Owo is the Lagos State Chairman, National Conscience Party (NCP). He speaks on Lagos State Council polls.
Your party, NCP has filed a fresh suit against the Lagos State Government, asking the court to stop Federal Government from giving federal allocation to the state until the state conduct local government elections. Now that LAISEC has declared readiness to conduct the election, is your party going to withdraw the suit?
Well, we are not going to withdraw the suit. No retreat, no surrender. LASIEC Chairman, Justice Ayotunde Philip only said that they are going to conduct the election in June, no date has been fixed. LASIEC did not give any specific date which means they are not ready for election yet. If LASIEC is ready, it supposed to have released a date. So, the suit still stands, we are not withdrawing any suit.
But do you think it was the move by your party to stop further remittance of allocation to the state that precipitated the move by LASIEC to declare readiness for the election?
Last year, we sued Lagos state government and LASIEC over indefinite postponement of the local government election and NCP won the case which the Lagos State Government appealed. But till date, they have not called us for the appeal in the Appeal Court. That is one factor and the second factor is the other suit we filed. The thing is, opposition parties are not talking in Lagos state, it is only NCP that is talking.
Had it been that we kept quiet, you might not have heard anything at all because they are not even ready to conduct local government election even in the next 50 years. They are only interested in running the local government with their Sole Administrators or the Caretaker Committees, which we all know is unconstitutional because they are not democratically elected into power.
PDP is not strong again, just recently, six PDP members in the Lagos State House of Assembly defected to APC and that shows that PDP is nowhere to be found. You can never find an NCP member leaving NCP and joining another party. The thing is that, it is a question of ideology. APC and PDP are birds of the same feather, parties without ideology. NCP is a party of ideology and we have programmes. As far as I am concerned, NCP is the major opposition in Lagos state because we are the one pressing LASIEC and the state government to conduct election in the state.
Are you not worried that this new case is going to suffer similar one with the one pending before the Appeal court?
Well, justice delayed is not denied, we have tried our best. As per the local government election in the state, if they conduct it and the tenure expires, the case that we have filed is not going to give them that privilege again to appoint Sole Administrators. If not for NCP, Lagos state wouldn’t have fixed time for the election. It is the impact of NCP and nobody can remove the impact of the party in the conduct of local government election in the state. If they do election in Lagos state today, it is the impact of NCP. But the fact is that they have to do it and the time is what we don’t know. We will keep on fighting until they conduct election in the state.
Lagos obviously is not the only state that has not conducted local government election since 2015. Why is NCP particular about Lagos?
You know this is NCP Lagos and other chapters are fighting in their own states. However, Lagos state is a state of action; you cannot compare Lagos state with the other 36 states of the federation. We have aggressive people, the most intellectually sound people and so many tribes are here. Lagos is Nigeria and what happens in Lagos happens everywhere in the country. And if they had won the case they appealed, it would have affected the entire country. I am the Chairman of NCP Lagos so I am going to take care of my state and I believe other states are doing their best also.
What would be the next line of action if the court refuses to grant your request?
Firstly, we are planning for a press conference to expose whoever that is hiding the case under the pillow. We are going to do everything possible to make sure that we put things in order.
Severally, you have said that LASIEC will never conduct a free, fair and credible election. Do you still nurse that fear?
Yes, the composition of LASIEC is made up of the APC members. They are many but I will just mention one, Lateef Raji. Historically, he was the first Secretary General of Alliance for Democracy (AD) Lagos state. After that, during Fashola’s era, he was the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, and last election in Ondo State, he was an aspirant. He even pasted his posters in Ondo as the governorship candidate on the platform of the APC. So this is the element who LASIEC chose to become a member and not only him.
What I am saying is that LASIEC will never conduct free, fair and credible election in the state because the composition of LASIEC is bias in the sense that it is full of APC members. What I expect from them is that, if they want to make it political, they should take maybe, five from APC, five from PDP, five members from NCP and others so that there will be no space for rigging. All these delay you see is part of rigging.
Imagine, LASIEC has delineated the wards. For instance, in Oshodi, we have seven wards and according to Federal government, we have five wards. What they want to do is that one month to the election; they might make the information available so that other parties will now be looking for candidates to use. So you see, they have already designed the rigging. Else, how would they do delineation and in my local government, we have seven wards but according to them, it is now nine or ten. This information is not yet public, they have it within themselves. I got the information from one of their members who have sympathy for our party. So, the election will not be free and fair.