OYO: APPROVAL OF N299 MILLION FOR PRINTING BALLOT PAPERS IS MEANS OF ENRICHING ACOLYTES WITH PUBLIC FUNDS
SPN faults the direct involvement of the Engr Seyi Makinde/PDP-led government in the printing of ballot papers and holds that a transparent, free and fair Local Government election can only be guaranteed by an OYSIEC (Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission) constituted by elected representatives of trade union organizations, professional bodies and political parties.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN Oyo State Chapter condemns the approval of a huge sum of N299 million by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government for the printing of ballot papers for the forthcoming local Government election and the regime’s involvement in the decision that led to the awarding of the printing contract to an undisclosed private company with an operation franchise under the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Companies, NSPMC.
The approval of such an outrageous sum of N299 million for the printing of ballot paper is a misplaced priority and further exposes the anti-workers disposition of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government. The Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, in less than two years of its existence has been riddled with numbers of industrial strikes and disputes, many of which are still lingering while the suspended ones are still looming, specifically over many demands of workers that are yet to be satisfied by the Engr. Seyi Makinde Administration.
For over two weeks now, workers in not less than five tertiary institutions in Oyo state have embarked on indefinite strike to protest the decision of the PDP-led state government to renege on its earlier commitment to pay the striking workers their eleven(11) months minimum wage arrears. In Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTCEH, Ogbomosho, workers have continued to groan under unpaid 7 months outstanding salaries and allowances. The situation is similar in the Polytechnic of Ibadan where several issues that border on non-payment of minimum wage arrears and its implementations are also still pending among other financial obligations expected of this present Makinde/PDP administration.
It is in the light of these numbers of labour related issues and other issues on financial needs of the state as it affects the working but suffering people that we of the SPN find it extremely unwise and unfortunate, the decision by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, which is known for its regular complaint of paucity of funds, to have approved a whopping N299million for the printing of ballot papers for a local government election when there is an obvious option of making use of the State owned printing press to carry out the same printing at a drastically reduced cost and thereby save for the State millions of naira.
Again the chances are high the state owned printing press can be well-equipped with improved functional capacity from the said amount if allows to undertake the printing of the ballot paper and continues to be used beyond the immediate need for ballot papers for all the State’s printing work plus printing work from other states, hence serving as a means of generating revenue for the state. Interestingly, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, attested yo this possibility when he disclosed in a public statement credited to him that the same Oyo State printing press had been used to print ballot papers for the previous local government elections conducted in the state.
The Commissioner has also reportedly claimed that the decision to award the contract of printing the ballot paper to NSPMC is to demonstrate that the regime is ready to be transparent in the conduct of the forth coming local government election of the 22nd of April. As far as we are concerned in SPN, it is highly untrue, deceitful and unthinkable that the Makinde/PDP administration that is directly involved in the printing of ballot papers and with a vested interest in these elections as a participant is now claiming that the basis for the award of the printing contract to a company that is only known to PDP, is a demonstration of transparency.
The Engr Seyi Makinde-led regime of the PDP, a political party that is also part of the contest in the said Local Government election, lacks the capacity to be transparent, given its involvement in awarding the printing contract and the kind of relationship including influence it might have established with the company expected to print the ballot paper. Therefore, it is our belief in SPN, that the primary motive behind the award of the printing of ballot papers to a franchisee of NSPMC by the Makinde administration is not about any attempt to be transparent but rather to continue to take the fraudulent advantage often provided by pro-capitalist policy of Private Public Partnership, PPP, and most importantly to secure an undemocratic victory for the PDP in the forthcoming local Government Elections.
It is important to state that, since 2018, the Federal Government has officially sold 21% of its interest in NSPMC, the composition and character of the NSPMC operation has been significantly altered. Asides the regulatory role been played now by the FG, all other activities of the NSPMC are being driven by each of the 482 private companies enjoying its franchise for profit interest. This means that the so called deal with NSPMC for the printing of ballot papers as disclosed by the Commissioner is most likely to be with one of the private companies that is a franchisee of the NSPMC. Hence the arrangement is a Public Private Partnership, PPP.
With this kind of surreptitious PPP arrangement, the chance is high that the approved N299million for the printing of the so called ballot paper will end up enriching a private firm most likely owned by political acolytes of leading individuals in the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government or the PDP.
The SPN frowns at this dubious and fraudulent PPP arrangement, calls for the immediate cancellation of the contract with the so called NSPMC and demands that the Oyo State printing press should be adequately funded and equipped with a view to reposition it so that it will be able to undertake the task of handling the production of the ballot papers under the supervision of Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, OYSIEC.
Although we are aware that OYSIEC, as it is presently constituted, lacks the capacity to supervise the production of ballot papers without an undue interference of the either the State Government or the PDP because the individuals who constitute the Commission are mostly members of PDP and were solely appointed by the State Governor who is also a PDP member. We of the SPN believe that this kind of unfortunate dependency of OYSIEC would have been prevented if the OYSIEC composition is such that is made up of elected representatives of trade unions like NLC, TUC; professional Associations like NBA, NUJ and representatives of active political parties in the State with the chairman and other principal officers of the Commission freely produced through a democratic election conducted among the members of the commission unlike the current situation that the principal officers of the commission are appointees of the Governor.
It is so unfortunate to note that the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government and its pro-capitalist orientation, like its APC predecessor, is not capable to guarantee a democratic OYSIEC let alone an open and transparent local government election. Therefore, it is only a pro-working people government formed on the basis of a socialist program that can guarantee a democratic OYSIEC with the capacity to midwife a credible local government election that will produce a local government with capacity to always ensure that public fund and resources is openly and transparently used for the benefit of workers and the poor.
We therefore, call on workers, youths and the poor people across the State to join us in the SPN and help build the Party towards the enthronement of such a socialist government in Oyo State and Nigeria at large.
Comrade Ayodeji Adigun
SPN State Secretary