Lagos Democratic Movement (LDM) condemns the decision by the Lagos state government to impose caretaker committees headed by handpicked Executive Secretaries in place of constitutionally recognised, democratically elected and legitimate Executive Councils in the 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 local Area Development Councils (LCDAs) in the state. It would be recalled that Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola on 6th of January, 2015 sworn-in Executive Secretaries for the 57 LGAs and LCDAs in violation of Chapter 1; Section 7 (1) of 1999 Constitution which expressly emphasised that “the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed ……..”. This unconstitutional act was undertaken in the absence of any law from the State Assembly supporting the appointments. On this score, LDM frowns at any attempt at undermining democracy and governance in Lagos state under whatever guise and excuse.
LDM wishes to state that the appointment of the Executive Secretaries by the government of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, without a legislation supporting the appointment, and their subsequent inauguration clearly undermines the rights of millions of electorate in Lagos state to determine the choice of their legitimate representatives in governance at the grassroots. LDM also wishes to alert that the action of the government which, by implication, has foisted needless and avoidable interregnum in local government administration in Lagos state also constitutes dangerous precedence as well as unduly exposes the system to non-accountability and corruption.
It is imperative to emphasize that LDM unequivocally disagrees with the position of Governor Fashola who had argued at the swearing of the Executive Secretaries that the appointment of the Executive Secretaries was necessitated by the challenges encountered with the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). LDM unambiguously maintains that contrary to such insinuation by the Executive Governor, Lagos state government and the State Independent National Electoral Commission (LASEIC) never showed genuine interest in the conduct of local government election in the state prior to the expiration of the tenure of the last Executive Councils in 20 LGAs/30LCDAs. Premeditated ploy to postpone elections in LGAs/LCDAs had long been clearly demonstrated by lack of commitment and preparation by LASEIC as well as official and unofficial body languages of top functionaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos state.
It is therefore the conviction of LDM that the challenges encountered with the distribution of PVCs by INEC was only a smokescreen exploited by Lagos state government and could not, by any stretch of imagination, be considered a good enough reason by a governor who had vociferously and publicly advocated, and in unmistaken terms, that INEC could as well go ahead with the conduct of 2015 general election without the use of PVCs in view of the challenges of capturing all prospective voters. It is therefore important to remind Governor Fashola and the APC government in Lagos state that the postponement of elections into LGAs/LADCs in the state violates democratic wishes of the generality of electorate who desire better governance and administration at the grassroots. It is also crucial to reiterate that any further delay in the conduct of elections into the 20LGAs/37LCDAs as presently constituted would amount to deliberate ploy to further frustrate genuine yearnings of the people in seeking change through the ballot box.
Lastly, LDM insists that the composition of caretaker committees through the appointment of the Executive Secretaries amounts to sheer contempt and abuse of privilege by a government that prides itself as the face of democratic standard in Nigeria. On a final note, it is the conviction of LDM that imposition of appointees in place of elected representatives at the local government level offends democratic mood of overwhelming electorate in Lagos state.
LDM therefore demand the release and commencement of a clear plan of action towards the democratization of local governance in Lagos State from the government of Lagos and All Progressive Congress.