By Ayodele Akele
First, it is important that we alert the public of the fact that an election into Lagos LG Councils is NOT HOLDING on July 22 as advertised, which is 12 days from now. What is actually been planned by the APC regime in Lagos using the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC and the Judiciary is NOT an election but CRUDE imposition of APC handpicked elements on our Local Government Councils. In essence, a COUP, a FRAUD and CONSPIRACY are what is on the agenda in Lagos on July 22 2017 and the consequence of this would be a torturous continuation of the ruinous, highly oppressive, extortionist and 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 National Conscience Party, NCP, for the Lagos Council Elections have been wickedly denied forms and registration by the Justice Phillips led LASIEC using illegal guidelines, unilaterally and callously imposed on the impending elections. It is important to inform that the NCP had organized its primaries peacefully (without any deaths and casualties unlike the APC’s imposition exercise) 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 billions of naira of public money 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 so-called guidelines that crudely and wickedly negate 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 Gov Amode, President Buhari, Senators, Assembly men and women, etc, for the 2015 elections or all INEC elections over the years and they never paid a dine to pick up INEC forms to contest elections. Why must LASIEC case be different? Where is the precedent?
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 undemocratic guidelines with an Affidavit of Urgency attached and as we speak, two months after, the lawsuit has not yet been heard by any judge in a Lagos State High Court. This is a big scandal. This development clearly raises a lot of questions about whether the judiciary is actually the last hope of the common man. Now they are saying the courts are going on vacation by July 17 2017.
We know that there is a CONSPIRACY by the APC regime and LASIEC to stop our lawsuit from been heard at all cost before the elections take place using crude and wicked bureaucratic methods. For one, we know that the Chief Justice of Lagos and the Chair of LASIEC are blood sisters. 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. It confirms the corrupt nature of the judicial system and its lack of independence. We are determined to expose this reality to the Nigerian masses. Already we have also put in place the process of petitioning the National Judicial Council, NJC.
Third, due to our lawsuit against LASIEC, we also confirmed from the counter affidavit from the lawyer of LASIEC that LASIEC has been working all along with enemies of the NCP with the agenda of artificially creating conflict within NCP. 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 the gang APC-LASIEC 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 criminal 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. They have been working hand in hand with LASIEC for sometime now and we can reliably deduce that their main link is Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi, an executive member of the LASIEC board. He is also an aggrieved ex-member of the NCP and was the first chairperson of Lagos NCP who has crossed to the other side a long time ago. He is no doubt a sworn enemy of the party, its leadership, the masses and Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
Four, the counter affidavit of LASIEC is filled with monstrous scandals that when the chairperson was confronted with these facts she was forced to summon a meeting with NCP on June 19 2017. At the meeting, she confessed that LASIEC had earlier written 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 the LASIEC has continued with its hatchet job as majority of the documents in NCP’s file with LASIEC were manipulated and concerted by LASIEC and from impostors.
It was at the June 19 2017 meeting with LASIEC and later with Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi that we further confirmed that no election is really on the agenda come July 22 2017. We assert that what is on the agenda is imposition similar to what happened in the APC where there were no party primaries but a crude imposition.
We are in no way surprised by dirty and criminal antics of the APC and LASIEC. We are not surprised that APC went out desperately to recruit scores of ex-NCP members from Dr. Omoseyindemi’s camp to help them do their dirty work. We are in fact prepared for it.
It is on record that since the crude refusal of the APC regime in Lagos to organize elections into the local councils in 2014, the NCP has been in the forefront of the struggle for the democratization of the local government councils and ending the LG councils as units of oppression, extortion and demolition in Lagos State. We have been in court several times and in fact won the lawsuit against the State government and LASIEC in 2016 and we have continued to voice out opposition to the numerous undemocratic agenda of the APC in the LG council in Lagos.
We are bold to say that it was due to these mounting legal and political pressures that the APC was forced to organizing the impending elections. However, we know that scavenging hyenas can’t change their spots and intentions.
We pointed out from day one of the release of the so-called guidelines for the elections by LASIEC the undemocratic nature and illegalities of these conditions. In the first instance, we pointed out that there are Supreme Court rulings against these guidelines since 2003 in a lawsuit filed by the founder of the National Conscience Party, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN.
It was due to this initial objections that LASIEC was forced to bring down the cost of the form from N100,000.00 to N50,000.00 for the office of the council chair. However, it is COMPLETELY ILLEGAL and UNDEMOCRATIC for LASIEC to charge a single Kobo for any form for elections.
What is also important to note is that these conditions are quite similar to the conditions imposed by APC and bourgeois political parties for their internal primaries. These guidelines are designed to keep the poor and the working class (however credible) totally out of politics and make politics the exclusive preserve for the rich and privileged and their families alone.
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
The National Conscience Party is the political party of the toiling masses and youth of Nigeria. We are not a business center like APC or PDP or the other bourgeois political parties where it is how much money you have and what properties that you own that dictates how far you can go within the party.
The NCP does not charge a Kobo for any form for its internal elections nor does it impose undemocratic conditions within it. We would not watch and fold our arms while the democratic rights fought for by the masses are wickedly removed by desperate bourgeois usurpers who want to keep politics the exclusive preserve of the rich, corrupt elements and their families.
We know that if LASIEC is allowed to get away with this fraud, a very bad precedence would be laid. 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 this undemocratic 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.
We know quite well that APC just like the PDP have no democratic blood in their veins. We also know the consequence results of all these undemocratic conditions. Already, scores have died within APC due to the imposition of candidates within the party and we cannot so ready forget what Bola Tinubu a chieftain of the party said about this impending LG council elections. He declared that no single opposition party would have a seat in the Lagos council elections as if he has more than one vote.
However, we must note that the struggle to preserve and expand the democratic rights in the society is a constant struggle a political party of the masses must wage as we can see that the ruling elites are always out to continue to plunder the treasury and impose economic policies and conditions that only benefit the minority rich and rob the poor.
We stand on the side of the masses in this struggle and we say NO to APC’s coup plot in Lagos council elections. We are using this medium to call on other democratic organizations to join in this struggle to defend our basic democratic rights.
Democracy is the right to vote for or be voted for. Nobody or no class of people must be allowed withdraw this basic right.