Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr Taofik Gani, promised the ruling party an upset in certain areas of the state. week during the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming local government poll.
The nomination process of the ruling party should be an internal affair but the last one came with widespread bloody clashes, putting the state on the edge. What would you say to the APC as the local government poll is approaching? Are you worried there could be a repeat of last weekend’s bloodshed?
We ordinarily are concerned having to record two deaths during the APC primaries. We are concerned not even as a political party but as persons living in Lagos, doing business in Lagos and who feel we should have tranquility in the state. The killings and maiming were unimaginable.
If that could go on just for the APC, the ruling party, to get its candidates, you can imagine the extent they can go to govern, to control the funds of local governments.
Is your party engaging with security agencies to ensure the safety of your members and members of the public who may want to participate in the poll?
We don’t have to teach the security agents their job. As far as we are concerned, they cannot play neutral in the game with the ruling party. We will only try our best to stand up for our right.
We will let them know that there is law. We will give the security agencies the benefit of the doubt. We want the Commissioner of Police, we want the Civil Defence Commandant and all other relevant agencies to ensure that they do not play partisan politics.
They should go and do fairness, they should do equity, whoever they find to have flouted the law during the election must be arrested. If they arrest PDP members that were found to have committed electoral malpractices, we can tell you that nobody would rise up to say that they have done wrongly; we would support them because we do not support violence, we do not support electoral malpractices in PDP and that is why for whatever will come out of this election, we would all be aboveboard. We would be proud as a party to have participated.
Despite the low interest of the people in local government poll, why are politicians killing and maiming to be part of local government administration?
Really, local government election is supposed to be one that generates interest in the people, but perhaps in Lagos State, the people are so disenchanted with what is happening and they always believe that the state will eventually write the names of people to be declared as chairmen and councilors. There is too much disenchantment among the people to participate in local government polls.
This should be a cause for concern for any government that wants to show that it is actually the government of the people. There should be reasons for the people even to have confidence in the process.
If we lose that election, everywhere that we lose election and we know that we have lost fairly, we would congratulate whoever wins. But the APC would not even give room for that because there is not likely to be a credible election.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu should be wary of this because this will mar his seeming achievements. If you don’t have people who have been duly elected representing the people at the local government level, that is no democracy, that is usurpation of mandate. He should be interested in not having that. Anybody who wants to control any level of this government must have the mandate of the people.
If such magnitude of crisis attended the nomination process of the ruling party, how confident are you that the poll itself would be free and fair?
Talking about confidence in the process, we do not have any confidence at all and again, we use this opportunity to support the call for the amendment of the constitution. The state should not be given the power to control the electoral process at the local government level.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should rather conduct the election. If we have that, then let us have a complete regional system where the local governments are 100 per cent under the state government. In that situation, we wouldn’t even venture into conducting local government election because we know it is a one-party arrangement.
They may not even conduct election if they change everything to appointments and selections. What is happening across the federation is not good for democracy: the ruling party in any state wins every council election. This should not be so.
So, we do not have confidence in the process; we will only participate for the sake of participating. However, we will keep our gun powder dry. We still have our secret arrangement in some areas where we shall shock the APC. No matter what, we will win those areas come July 24.