PDP Candidates in Dilemma over Lagos Council Elections

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•Ambode announces restriction of movement

By Gboyega Akinsanmi

The chairmanship and councillorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are currently in dilemma over whether they validly emerged to contest the local government elections in Lagos State scheduled to hold next Saturday.

The candidates were said to be jittery over a Supreme Court decision that nullified the leadership of former National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff last week, thereby stirring confusion in their ranks.

A party chieftain disclosed the development to THISDAY yesterday, noting that  the list of the PDP candidates the Sheriff faction submitted to the State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) might  be a nullity at the end if challenged in court.

Before the apex court delivered its decision last week, the PDP was factionalised between Senator Ali Modu Sheriff and Senator Ahmed Makarfi in the state like other states of the federation.

While the Sheriff faction was then under the leadership of Mr. Segun Adewale supported by the PDP governorship candidate, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, the Makarfi faction is still under the control of Mr. Moshood Salvador with the support of former PDP Deputy Chairman, Chief Bode George.

Due to an appellate court decision that initially recognised Sheriff as the National Chairman, the LASIEC accepted the list of the PDP candidates contesting the elections from the Sheriff faction in the state.

With the decision of the apex court, however, the party chieftain disclosed that there have been agitations that some aggrieved loyalists of the Makarfi faction in the state might approach court to challenge the validity of the candidate list submitted to the LASIEC.

According to him, the Sheriff faction treated Bode George with disrespect despite his contribution to the party at all levels. They would have retired had it been Sheriff won at the Supreme Court.

He said the aggrieved members were ready “to fight both politically and legally unless the national leaders quickly wade in on time and work out political solution. Failing to work out political solution may eventually edge out the PDP out of the contest.”

However, another chieftain of the party defended the list of the chairmanship and councillorship candidates submitted to the LASIEC, noting that it was validly submitted because the decision of an appellate court recognised Sheriff then as the PDP National Chairman.

Aside, the party chieftain alleged that Chief Bode George directed all loyalists of the Makarfi faction in the state “to go into alliance with the Labour Party in the council elections scheduled for Saturday. Already, they are contesting on the platform of the Labour Party.

“As a matter of fact, one of the requirements to be submitted to the LASIEC is the membership cards of all candidates. That is the evidence against them. There is no ambiguity or dilemma about the candidates of the PDP. We are now one party under the Makarfi leadership.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government yesterday announced restriction of vehicular movement in the state on Saturday in view of the elections that would hold across the 20 local government and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) across the state.

This was contained in a statement the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, issued yesterday, noting that the restriction of movement would be enforced between 8a.m. and 2p.m.on Saturday to allow for a smooth conduct of the polls and unhindered participation.

He noted that the state “is known for peaceful conduct of elections, and as such, urged residents to be peaceful and orderly on Saturday to cast their votes in their respective wards for Chairmen and councilors who are expected to drive development at the third tier of government.

“As the election that will bring on board a new set of public officers for the next four years at the local government level, the restriction will allow the LASIEC and security agencies to distribute electoral materials in good time and ensure the sanctity of free and fair electoral process.

“The police and other security agencies are ready to ensure that the electioneering campaign and the voting on Saturday are conducted smoothly without public disturbance. Every political party, candidates and their supporters and the general public are hereby assured of safety throughout the period of voting and collation,” he explained.

He said the state government enjoin all voters to obey the restriction order and the general electoral rules in order to ensure a peaceful conduct before, during and after the elections.

He, therefore, urged all Lagos residents “to perform their civic obligations by trooping out with their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to once again demonstrate their belief in the tenets of participatory democracy and the importance of development at the local government level.”