Running for election into some local governments in Lagos State is like running for the governorship of some states, hence the rat race for the chairmanship and councillorship positions in the state. Indeed, the number of those who came forward to contest for the forthcoming council polls in Lagos is bewildering. Within the All Progressives Congress (APC) alone, 1,806 aspirants turned up to contest to be councillors in the 377 wards and 488 to be chairman in the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas in the state.
How does a party manage this humongous number of aspirants in a way to produce quality candidates to complement the good work being done by Governor Ambode, and with little acrimony? The Lagos APC leadership knew it had to put on its thinking cap and fashion out an arrangement that would be democratic and at the same time throw up credible candidates.
The party opted for a combination of direct and indirect primaries, the latter encompassing consensus arrangement. Indeed, the APC constitution provides for both direct and indirect primaries. Consensus approach and candidature through affirmation are key democratic processes. In areas where the consensus arrangement could not resolve the issue of candidature, direct primaries were arranged. The ratification of the approved candidates who had emerged by consensus and direct primaries in a few contentious areas were then slated for Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos on May 25. The ratification of the large army of candidates who had emerged by consensus had been done, and election was being called for the few contentious areas when trouble broke out and the process could not proceed.
Since then, however, the multi-level conflict-resolution mechanism put in place by the party had virtually resolved the problem. Where there are still pockets of complaints, consultations and discussions and negotiations have been employed to deal with them and they are still ongoing.
I have taken the pains to explain the electoral processes employed which have virtually resolved all the contending issues, in order to pick holes in the claim of a former Lagos Commissioner for The Environment, Mr. Muiz Banire, who said no primaries were conducted. As APC Legal Adviser, though he resigned from office the other day, Banire is wrong. The party’s constitution approves of both direct and indirect primaries.
Pray, where was Banire “the custodian of the party’s constitution,” when the party’s governorship primary election ran into crisis in Ondo or when a system alien to politics was employed in Kogi in the name of candidate-replacement?
Now, the custodian has suddenly woken up from his slumber. This is the same Banire who was a beneficiary of consensus through which he held sway as Special Adviser and Commissioner for 12 unbroken years. Imagine what will happen if every position and seat in Lagos is left to the vagaries of election. Yet Banire who is crying wolf has never contested, not to talk of winning an election in Lagos.
*Balogun, a political analyst, writes from Ikorodu
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