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Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005


Fresh Democratic Election Must Be Conducted Into Local Councils In Lagos State

On July 28, 2005, Lagos State House of Assembly claims to have passed a law reverting from 57 local councils to the old 20 recognised by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, the Lagos State Chairman of the NCP, Segun Sango says that the reported reversal leaves many things to be desired as the "Chairmen and Councillors" of the so-called 57 local council era will still retain their positions but now under the guise of so-called "Development Area Councils". Sango maintains that this approach will still be illegal and unconstitutional. Below is the excerpt of the interview:

Socialist Democracy (SD): What is your reaction to the Lagos State government reversion to the old 20 local governments from 57 newly created by the state?

Sango: Firstly, we have always maintained that on the basis of the relevant provisions of the 1999 constitution and the unambiguous pronouncement of the Supreme Court ruling, the federal government has no valid basis to continue to withhold the allocation meant for the local council in Lagos state for any reason. We have therefore always demanded for the release of the fund. In arriving at this position however, we have also said that, which is supported by the Supreme court ruling, the so-called newly created local governments in the state are "inchoate" and that the federal government allocation to local governments to Lagos state must not be appropriated for the so-called 57 local councils. We have consistently demanded for a reversion to the structures of the old 20 local governments listed in the constitution without any infraction or loss of assets to them immediate fresh elections into them.

SD: The federal government has released N10 billion from the N35 billion due to the 20 local governments. What is your view on this?

Sango: As we have maintained, the federal government is only complicating matter by not releasing the entire fund to the state. The Supreme Court ruling is unambiguous on this. However, the Lagos state is yet to truly revert to 20 old local governments. While the state claims it has reverted to 20 local governments, it still retains the 37 local governments with a different nomenclature "Development Area Councils" with their so-called chairmen and councillors in tact. This implies that the old local governments structures and territories have been impaired. For instance, five local governments were created out of Alimosho Local government. While the state claims to have reverted to the old Alimosho, the five local governments created from it are in tact with chairmen and councillors. Again, elections are yet to be conducted in the old 20 local government. Who, for instance is the chairman of Alimosho local government? Nobody because "elections" were only conducted on March 27, 2004 on the basis of the illegal 57 local governments. Therefore, if the Lagos government is serious, the ideal and rational step it should take is an immediate conduct of elections to the 20 local governments that actually exist in the state with an immediate disbandment of the illegal 37 and their officers.

SD: What happens if the state government sticks to its gun by refusing to conduct fresh elections as credited to its spokes person, Dele Alake in the dailies?

Sango: This will not be the first time AD government in Lagos state will be taking Lagosians for a ride by holding them to ransom on its selfish political calculations at the expense of Lagosians. When the state government and its puppet called LASIEC insisted in going ahead with March 27, 2004 local government elections on the basis of the so-called 57 newly created local governments, NCP and other active parties in the state protested this and even went to court to challenge it. By crook means, the AD government went ahead with the "election", technically denying other parties like NCP who were in court to participate in the "election". But now, we have been vindicated. However, a lot of money that could have been used for development of living conditions of the masses have been squandered on illegal "election".

However, now that the Lagos state government claims to have reverted to the 20 local governments structure, the next logical and constitutional thing to do is to conduct a fresh and democratic election into these councils. And let me state very clearly here that the issue of the purported agreement reached between the federal and Lagos state governments on the matter can only be tenable and relevant only to the extent that it does not in any way infringe upon the democratic and constitutional rights of Nigerian citizens living in Lagos state.

Under the 1999 constitution, local councils, like the executive and the legislature, can only be lawfully governed by elected officers. Therefore, the position of the Lagos state government that it will not conduct new elections into the local councils, even after its own claim that it has reverted to the 20 local councils known to the 1999 constitutions, on the ground that such condition was not contained in the purported deal struck by some elder statesmen between Lagos and central governments is untenable, undemocratic, unconstitutional and perhaps reveals the morbid fear of the AD in Lagos state to go for a democratic, free and fair elections given their very poor and anti-poor orientation and conducts.



Socialist Democracy Aug - Sept 2005