Ayotunde Phillips
Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) Justice Ayotunde Phillips (rtd)

The timely intervention by the Lagos State governor, ‎Akinwunmi Ambode, disagreement within the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, among other issues, ensured a resounding victory for the All Progressives Congress in last Saturday’s local government elections in Lagos, writes Shola Oyeyipo

Many expected the All Progressives Congress to have a tough time during last Saturday’s local government election in Lagos given the feud and violence which characterised the party’s primaries. But this was so as the party had an easy ride to success going by the election results.

Going by the official results eventually announced on Monday by the Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) Justice Ayotunde Phillips (rtd) in a statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Oladapo Olatunde, APC swept all the 20 local government and 37 development areas seats.

Of the 369 councillorship seats, the PDP was only able to win four seats in Agege LGA (Ward C), Itire Ikate LCDA (Ward A), Ikorodu LGA (Ward D) and Oriade LCDA (Ward A). The Accord Party (AP) also won in Agege LGA (Ward E), Ikosi Isheri LGA (Ward D) and Somolu LGA (Ward E). So, APC would have won a total victory but for the seven councillorship seats lost to PDP and Accord Party.

It was indeed a big victory for the ruling party and to many of them, including the likes of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode; former Lagos State governor and APC national leader, Senator Bola Tinubu; the state APC chairman, Chief Henry Ajomole; former APC Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe and a host of others, the victory is well deserved.

In fact, four days to the election, while presenting the party candidates with flags, Ajomole boasted that nothing was going to stop the party from winning all the elective offices as a gift for the duo of Tinubu and Ambode.

“Nothing is going to stop us. By the grace of God we are going to win the elections. Come Saturday, get ready and use your available opportunities and your leadership roles to win for our candidates and we know, for His Excellency the governor and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu our leader, we must win the elections as a gift to both of them. I said it before, we are going to give the governor the whole package, the total package, all the councillors, all the chairmen are going to be handed over to the governor,” Ajomole said with assurance.

Going by Igbokwe’s calculation, what fetched the ruling party the landslide victory was simply because the party prepared ahead by campaigning well. Secondly, the seemingly intractable fracas within the leadership of the opposition PDP at the state level also prevented the party from working as a team.

Igbokwe said: “We are not surprised by the result we got because we campaigned as if there was a formidable opponent in place. I am not surprised we won all the seats because the PDP was still fighting within themselves when we were preparing for the election and putting our house in order. In fact, 24 hours to the election there was still confusion in the opposition camp.”

But away from the expression of confidence by APC members, the ruling party headed for the election divided. Some members were disenchanted and protested over alleged imposition of candidates. The fear was that those aggrieved might choose to work against the party at the election. But it took the timely intervention of Ambode to calm frail nerves.

“The governor was able to resolve practically all the issues before the election. He held several meetings with aggrieved members and was able to pacify every side and that is why the APC was able to go into the election as a united house,” Igbokwe said.

When addressing the party’s candidates few days before the election, Ambode appealed to aggrieved party members to put aside their dis-contentment and ensure that the party succeed at the election, stressing that the ruling party was capable of making amends by giving appointments to the aggrieved.

“All the things that we have done wrong, I want to say sorry. I want to appeal to all members of the party. If we break the house, there would be no further canopy. So it’s better to call the plumber, the bricklayer, the electrician to come and do repair works, so that there would be somewhere for us to lay our head and sleep.

“I know a lot of misgivings had taken place, but what is important is for us to build the house together, thereafter we can do aesthetics to the windows and the doors so that those who are standing would be able to sit. Wherever it is that we have had cracks, there are still more than a 1001 positions to compensate,” Ambode pleaded.

While APC succeeded in putting its house in order, the PDP could not and had to go into the election divided. The implication of going into an election divided was very clear to the party but yet, it failed to rally its members for the election. During the election, the PDP was where the APC wanted it: in disarray. This affected the party’s chance in the election. This much was acknowledged by Mr Moshood Salvador, the party factional chairman in Lagos who sided with Ahmed Makarfi’s caretaker committee while the battle for the soul of the party was on.

Before the Supreme Court’s judgment which gave victory to Makarfi, Salvador had said his group would form an alliance with Labour Party for the purpose of the Lagos council polls .

He said: “We are all not unaware of the leadership problem rocking our party, for which we are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court to end the crisis. This is why the party needs experienced, knowledgeable and an articulate leadership at all levels. By extension, the Ali Modu Sheriff group of Lagos PDP also took advantage of the crisis, connived with APC to reduce the chances of PDP’s success in the coming Lagos State council election.”

Consequently, Salvador directed chairmanship and councillorship candidates on his side to contest the poll on the LP platform as a way to avoid dealing with the Segun Adewale-led PDP faction which enjoyed the backing of stalwarts of the party, including Chief Olabode George. However, Adewale described Salvador’s action as a failed attempt to undermine the PDP at the polls, LP itself ran into crisis over the alliance talk with the PDP.

Soon after the alliance was announced, a member of the Labour Party, Mr. Femi Enofe, who claimed to be the newly elected caretaker chairman of the party; after a purported suspension of the state chairman, Pastor Biodun Popoola, denied having any alliance or pact with the PDP in Lagos State that would allow PDP’s candidates to contest the election on Labour Party’s platform.

So, going into the election divided and disorganised against a more formidable APC which has been in control of the state since 1993 was definitely a major problem for the party.

But apart from all these, PDP members also alleged that the election was not free and fair contrary to the views of top APC members who claimed the election was a true reflection of the wish of the people of the state.

While the election was ongoing, Bode George had noted that there were reports of electoral malpractices and violence “Our boys are reporting some incidences. It is everywhere from what I have heard.” Likewise, the PDP state Public Relations Officer, Mr. Taofik Gani, who reported incidences of ballot stuffing in Sogunle area, was emphatic in his call to the LASIEC chairman to cancel the entire process and conduct fresh elections.

Though there were reported cases of violence in Orile Agege, Odi-Olowo, Amuwo Idofin and Oshodi, and also there was low turn out of voters due to the heavy rain downpour on the election date, there is no indication that LASIEC is considering cancelling any of the elections. In fact, Ambode had already sworn-in the newly elected chairmen on Tuesday. And by that action, anyone with strong argument against the conduct of the election has only one option left: to go to court for the determination of his right.

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While APC succeeded in putting its house in order, the PDP could not and had to go into the election divided.