For an electoral body with elected representatives of political parties, social groups and working class organisations
By Moshood Oshunfurewa
The result of the recently conducted local council elections in Lagos is a not a surprise to anybody given the desperation of the ruling party using all organs of the state to win election. All Progressives Congress (APC) won all 57 Chairmanship seats, it also won 369 Councillorship seats while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Accord Party won 4 and 3 seats respectively. This result is also the pattern across the federation, the ruling PDP won landslide in their respectively states (Gombe, Abia, Ondo and Taraba) while APC won landslide in their respective states (Lagos, Ogun, Niger, Sokoto, Adamawa, Zamfara and Yobe).
However, the poll election was characterized by apathy and irregularities. For instance, according to Punch Newspaper of July 23, 2017, “In Ward E, Unit 13 and 17 Iru/Victoria Island of the 1469 registered voters, only about nine had been able to vote as of 1pm; also in Ward A, Unit 13 Lekki Scheme 1 Eti Osa LGA, out of 1,439 registered voters, only five voted as of 1:12pm.” According to the same report, “From Lagos Island to Ikeja, Epe to Badagry and Ikorodu to all the polling units in the state, only a handful of voters came out to exercise their civil duty.”
Failure for the local council leaders to meet the expectations of the working masses just like the other levels of government is largely responsible for the apathy. Though, it rained heavily on the Election Day, the people would have defied the rain if they had any interest to defend.
Elections in capitalist countries are largely unfair and undemocratic, this is more pronounced in neo-colonial countries like Nigeria. The elections are usually a proof that state apparatus are not independent and it is a tool in the hands of the ruling class to suppress and undermine the masses. The Lagos council poll shows clearly how organs of the capitalist state can be used to meet the interest of a few privileged and powerful interest considering how the Lagos House of Assembly brazenly amended the Lagos State Electoral law about three days to the election within a record time of 10 minutes and got it signed almost immediately by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
The law before the amendment stated that political parties must conduct primaries and submit names of their candidates 23 days before the election. But because the APC were unable to meet this provision, the party and the government had to use the parliament to amend the law without taking into consideration some standard parliamentary procedures such as calling for public hearing, calling for input by the general public and allowing debates before a law is enacted.
Prior to the election, the ruling parties being in control of public funds usually have a war chest to prosecute very expensive campaigns, bribe voters, do media publicity, and since the elections are heavily monetized, they usually have an edge over other parties. Hence, there is no level playing ground between the establishment capitalist parties and others.
Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) demands a more transparent and democratic election at all levels. The leadership of the electoral body should include the elected representatives of the political parties, social groups, pro-labour organisations and working class organisations. Other reforms should include an end to use of public funds for election campaigns/activities.