MASS BOYCOTT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION IN LAGOS
MASS BOYCOTT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION IN LAGOS
By ‘Lanre Akinola
Lagos State government through the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC), on Saturday, October 22, 2011, conducted election into 20 constitutionally recognized Local Governments (LG) and the so-called 37 Local Development Area Councils (LCDA). The State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) said ACN won all the Chairmanship seats in all the local Governments and Local Development Area Councils while other parties won few councilorship seats in some LGs and LCDAs. The election was marred by rigging, violence and low turnout of voters. It was also characterized by late arrival of materials while in most places election was conducted without accreditation of voters due to non-availability of voters’ registers.
The low turnout of voters that characterized the local council election in Lagos State on October 22 clearly was an indication that working people and poor have completely lost interest in the affairs of the local councils as a result of poor and discouraging performance of local councils in the recent past. The low turnout of voters made nonsense of the propaganda of the Lagos State Government about the good performance of the local government councils.
The basic facilities such as good roads, pipe borne water, health services, quality education, etc. that could impact positively on the lives of the majority of the people are virtually not in existence in all the local councils in Lagos State. Almost all the access/feeder roads that are under the local councils are in deplorable conditions with potholes and gullies and virtually becoming impassable. Where the roads are tarred, the quality of the materials often used for the rehabilitation and construction of the roads are sub-standard and therefore potholes and gullies resurface on the roads within a very short time.
Also, health services and quality education have collapsed in the local councils to the extent that majority of the people are patronizing private hospitals and schools despite their poor services. Most buildings in public schools are without windows and roofs while most classrooms are without chairs and desks. Therefore, pupils are compelled to either stand or sit down on the floor to listen to their poorly paid teachers.
Apart from the low turnout and rigging that characterized the election, the election into the so-called Local Council Development Areas violated the Supreme Court judgement, which pronounced Local Council Development Areas “inchoate”. The implication of the Supreme Court judgement is that the Local Council Development Areas are not yet legal entities. It is therefore illegal and unconstitutional for the Lagos State government to conduct election into the Local Council Development Areas. Politically, the creation of additional 37 Local Governments Areas being disguised as Local Council Development Areas without additional funds from the federation account was not in the best interest of the Lagosians. It was done to create jobs for the “boys” and satisfy the selfish interest of politicians at the expense of service delivery. The money that would have been used to reconstruct and rehabilitate roads and provide other services are used to pay huge salaries and allowances of chairmen, councillors, press secretaries, personal assistants and other political office holders ‘elected’ or appointed as a result of the creation of additional 37 Local Governments.
The low turnout that greeted the election into the local councils was not only lack of confidence in the ruling party in Lagos State but also lack of confidence by the working people and poor in other political parties. The other political parties such as PDP, APGA and CPC that contested the election are not different from ACN in terms of program and orientation. If any of them come to power, they will implement the same anti-poor neo-liberal policies as obtained at all levels of government irrespective of the ruling political parties. Therefore, the working people and poor did not see any reason why they should come out to vote any of them into power. The few people that came out to vote were mostly political appointees, contractors and those that are benefitting directly or indirectly from the government in power either at the state or local government levels.
Nigerian working people and youth need to start building a working peoples’ political alternative that can win political power and establish a genuine working peoples’ government run on socialist programs at all levels of government. Such government will be ready to commit public resources to provision of basic needs, social services and infrastructure like education, health care and roads. Trade unions and working people organizations have central roles to play in formation of such party. The Labour Party formed by the Nigeria Labour Congress has become another party of anti-poor and pro-establishment politicians in programme, orientation and membership. The NLC must disown the party and lead the way to formation of a democratic mass working peoples’ political party with a socialist program.