Monday Reflections: This Weekend LG Election in Oyo State May Not be Free, Fair and Credible Except… || Aderemi Ogundele

The body language of Gov Seyi Makinde has said it all. His recent public utterances have confirmed his stand on what to expect on Saturday. His antecedents are sufficient enough to predict the possible outcome of this week Local Government Election. It may fall short of the expectations of those that have swallowed the initial baits that the election would be free and fair.

In a recent video that went viral, the governor did not mince words when he boasted that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would run away with victory in all the thirty-three Local Governments of Oyo State. It was a categorical statement. And it came from no less a person than the governor himself. He is of course, the principal and the boss of those that are statutorily mandated to conduct the election, therefore, anything can happen.

He even sounded a note of warning by making projections into what the opposition parties are to expect in the 2027 Local Government Election. There is going to be absolute nothing for them if they choose to partake in the exercise. That was his promise as he peeped into one of the events that would likely happen in his last days in office as a two-term governor of Oyo State.

He did not even stop at that as he encapsulated and demonstrated in style, his stand on this Saturday election with a popular political rendition. “Tiwa na lo de e o fara mo…” To any discerning minds, the song is not accidental at all. Rather, it came straight from his heart. Likewise, the “Buga dance” that accompanied the song was not meant for fun. It was well orchestrated and ultimately delivered with pride and arrogance to pass a clear and unambiguous message to the opposition camps.

I took my time to analyze the song and came to the conclusion that His Excellency meant every word in the lyrics. It was a symbolic and proverbial rendition to whom it may concern. “Asamo oro, asamo orin ni pelu afiwe elelo to yanranti”. Yes, it is more than a song because it is deep in meaning and ladened with dubious intentions.

Since April 28, 2023 when the OYSIEC Chairman, Aare Isiaka Isola Olagunju SAN released the timetable that officially commenced the process for the Local Government Election, no efforts have been spared by him in assuring the people that the election will be transparent. Perhaps, it was that assurance that inspired the major opposition party in the state, that is, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to throw in their hat in the ring.

For those that monitor the activities of the party (APC) vis-a-vis their preparations towards this election, one will notice that they have not been leaving any stone unturned across the nooks and crannies of Oyo State. Starting from the wards to the local government level, their campaigns have been massive, penetrative and impactful. They are determined to give the PDP a run for their money in all ramifications. They have demonstrated that they really mean business as a credible alternative party that is ready to bring developments to the grassroots.

But how far can the opposition parties struggle in this election with a governor who has openly demonstrated his aversion to a free and fair election? To what extent can they match a governor whose perception of a local government is for him to put the council in his pocket, or at best, be an appendage of the state government? How do you trust a governor that once said he does not believe in the existence of the third tier of government?

It is not an overstatement to mention that since May 29, 2019, the government in power has been running the local government in Oyo State in a very exploitative manner. Nothing tangible is happening in the third tier of government except for the payments of staff salaries and giving perks to the political office holders to seal their mouths. The Local Government System is already bastardized in Oyo State. No doubt, the people at the grassroot are the primary victims. I stand to be corrected on this assertion.

The way and manner His Excellency has been manipulating the statutory allocations and usurping the powers of the local government will make him uncomfortable to support a transparent election on Saturday. And I doubt it much if the OYSIEC can live up to its billing as an independent entity given the trust and confidence the opposition parties repose in the commission.

However, in all of this, the opposition parties in the election can by themselves make a big difference. “Agbara ojo koni ohun ko ni’le wo, onile ni ko ni gba fun”. An erosion will not spare a building from demolishing it, but the owner of the building must not relent.Therefore, the opposition parties must insist that the right things must be done right. And what are those things? Firstly, they must encourage the voters to come out enmass to exercise their civic duty. Secondly, they must ensure that their agents at the polling centers are well trained to monitor the process meticulously and employ the use of technology as a backup.

Thirdly, they must ensure that at the close of the polls, the votes are counted in the full glare of everybody. Then the results for each of the parties for both the councillorship and chairmanship elections filled in the popular form EC8A, signed by the presiding officer and countersigned by all the party agents at the centre. Then, they must obtain clean duplicate copies of this important form for their respective political parties..

Next is for the agents to take those result sheets, that is, the form EC8A to the Ward Collation Center to process the Ward results for the declaration of the winner of the councillorship election. Thereafter, the form EC8B results for the chairmanship election as collated at the Ward collation center must be taken to the Local Government Collation Center for final computation and declaration of the results of the Chairmanship Election.

Any attempt to skip or bypass any of these chain of events from the polling unit to the local government collation center must be stubbornly resisted by the opposition parties.

Please and please, no gree for anybody in this election on Saturday!!!

I wish all the candidates of the All Progressives Congress the best of luck and a successful outing on Saturday.

Congratulations in advance.

B. Aderemi Ogundele

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