***Says N2M nomination form fee is outrageous, insensitive
Earlier this week, the Caretaker Committee Chairman and the Caretaker Committee Secretary of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Tunde Balogun and Mr. Lanre Ogunyemi respectively, jointly released guidelines for participation in the upcoming Local Government election scheduled to hold on July 24 within the state. The party representatives quickly established that it was the duty of the party to provide guidelines for its members seeking to contest the election and while that may be true, it is disturbing that the current position of the party, especially regarding fees for the nomination forms as well as screening procedure appear to be a deliberate move to disenfranchise majority of the interested candidates in favor of the incumbents and the ‘anointed’.
Firstly, and according to the new guidelines, the nomination form for the position of LGA Chairman now stands at N2,000,000/= (two million naira), a sharp increment from N550,000/= (five hundred and fifty thousand naira) as at 2017, plus N50,000/= (fifty thousand naira) admin fee for a male while females get 50% off exclusive of the admin fee. A male Councillorship hopeful must pay N500,000/= (five hundred thousand) while females get 50% off for the nomination forms alongside the N50,000/= admin fee. With our minimum wage standing at N30,000/= a month, coupled with a harsh economy that got worsened by the pandemic, this move is clearly insensitive and definitely not in the interest of the ordinary Lagosian with inalienable rights to seek and contest the elective positions.
Moreover, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) that is saddled with the sole responsibility of conducting the elections have a fee of N150,000/= as the highest to be paid depending on what office is being sought, so what is the justification of the party’s high demands in fees for nomination forms? Secondly, the party’s imposition of a particularly awkward screening exercise that the aspirants are now subjected to begs the big question of veiled intentions. The inclusion of candidates’ contributions to the party, experience in public service etc. are new and very subjective. Ideally, the only requirements should be as provided by our nation’s constitution. For instance, what possible contributions will a new, young candidate who joined the party, in its comatose state within the last year, have made in comparison with an incumbent aspirant who has been in the party for at least 3years?
Over the years, our local government elections have been ingloriously branded as an exclusive preserve of the state where popular candidates win elections and are blatantly denied to favour the state’s handpicked preferences. The new guidelines appear to strongly support this thinking as most popular candidates will be inevitably shut out especially as the fees and screening exercise have somewhat become a tool to stifle the possible advancement of a great number of candidates to the next stage. It is vital at this point to be reminded that the local government administration system remains the closest to the people and raising the cost of entry to this current level automatically denies a lot of people at the grassroot their legitimate ambitions to run for office.
Section 221 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the amended 2010 Electoral Act clearly stipulate that the process to get political power, through legitimate and democratic means, must be done fairly and justifiably. It is only proper therefore, for the process to be executed in an impartial way that will bring out the best among our aspirants. The ideology of our Lagos4Lagos movement is hinged on returning real power to choose back to the people; and as far as elections are concerned, we believe the playing field should be made level and fair to ensure that if you are popular in your locality, you will emerge as their representative since democracy is a game of numbers.
As leaders, we must as a matter of urgency make the process credible enough so that aspirants can have several options to actualize their lawful dreams. Justice must not only be served; it must be seen as served and this is a passionate appeal to the leadership of our party to urgently review the lopsidedness of the guidelines and make it fair and accessible to all.