TOWARDS THE FORTH COMING LG POLLS IN OGUN STATE

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BY: AHMED TAOFEEK

The Local Government also referred to as the third tier of Government remains incontestably the closest to the people as it has over the years, served as a vehicle through which other tiers of government- the Federal and State, administer their programmes and policies. The Local Government also by far, is the standard avenue for determining the successes or otherwise of government projects and by extension, exploits of international organisations and other donor and interventions agencies, geared towards improving the living condition of the people.
Nigeria, operating a Federal system of government with 36 States, 774 Local Government and a Federal Capital Territory as components units with the view to bringing government and governance closer to the people, no doubt, recognizes the importance of this system of administration and governance as proper channel of command are put in place comprising the Chairman as head, assisted by supervisors and Councilors.
It therefore follows that the system of electing representative of the people at the grassroots should as a matter of necessity; interest every one for so many reasons. Election at this level is used to measure the level of preparedness of the Electoral umpires, Security Agencies, Independent Observers and other stakeholders. It is in the light of this that the forth coming Local Council election in Ogun State should not just interest everyone, but should also provoke participation across all levels.
With the inauguration of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission’s Committee (OGSIEC) by Governor Dapo Abiodun on Thursday, 18th March 2021, consisting of a Legal green horn, Bababtunde Osibodu as Chairman, Olatunji Akoni, Tajudeen Omolaja, Ayodele Bankole, Gbemi Onansanya and Remilekun Olaopa; certainly, the coast is now clear that the much anticipated Local Council polls will in no distant time, hold. This underscores why stakeholders must contribute their quota with a view to making the entire process seamless.
For instance, the charge by the Governor shortly after inaugurating the Committee that, “election is not just an aspect of democracy, it is an integral part of norms and values of the modern world political civilization. Little wonder that the absence of transparent, free, fair elections have become one of the elements of instability in the society. Therefore, a credible election is generally accepted as a consent of the people to be governed willingly by those whom they have elected as only real democracy can move our nation forward towards progress, and earn her the respect she deserves…”
Drawing inspiration from the postulations of the Ogun State Governor, it will not be out of place to counsel major stakeholders in this just course to immediately assume their responsibilities towards the success of this very important democratic process. To start with, there is the need for the National Orientation Agency (NOA)to swing into action in order to conscientise re-orientate the people, most especially those at the grassroots on the need to embrace the process and be actively involved in instituting acceptable leadership to the people.
The campaign should go beyond just informing the people to actually disabusing the minds of those who have lost confidence in electoral process, owing to perceived sharp practices of Local Council elections of yester years in Nigeria. It is sacrosanct to state that the task of conducting and ensuring free, fair and credible election in the estimation of the right thinking and unbiased public does not rest squarely on government. Government no doubt, has roles to play, but all other stakeholders must also come to the party.
Furthermore, voter apathy is another ugly trend that must be addressed. From findings, the general turnout of eligible voters during Local Council polls is in sharp decline to the turnout of eligible voters during Presidential, Parliamentary and Gubernatorial elections. It is very germane to puts effort in addressing this, as a reorientation of the people about the need to vote and be voted for cannot be over emphasized.
It is also not out of place to call on OGSIEC’s elder brother-the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide the much- needed guide and support even as the Commission counts on its wealth of experience to tap from. The INEC should be engaged extensively in order to get advice as an electoral body saddled with the responsibility of conducting election across different levels of administration invarably, there will be an avalanche of experience in its kitty that OGSIEC can learn from, with a view to replicating them to achieve smooth council polls in Ogun State.
For the generality of the people, it is important to counsel and dissuade them from being unnecessarily skeptical about government and its related activities. To a very large extent, the present administration in Ogun State, under the leadership of Prince Dapo Abiodun, has demonstrated that it has regard for democracy and democratic processes. This, should rekindle hope in the people. It is therefore incumbent on the citizenry to actively participate and get involved in the process by following all the guidelines that the Commission will soon reel out for a hitch free exercise.
Apart from turning out en masse for the exercise, the people must conduct themselves in orderly manner and eschew acts that will be detrimental and could dent the good image of the State. Acts such as hooliganism, multiple voting, vote buying and selling, canversing for votes beyond the stipulated time, ballot snatching among other offences as stipulated by law should be totally eschewed. It is equally important to call on the Security Agencies to conduct themselves professionally and also maintain a neutral posture, bearing in mind that the global community is watching also with posterity as the ultimate judge.
Furthermore, it is hoped that the media- traditional and the new media will see themselves as partners, as the State continue its untiring effort at sustaining the democratic process by avoiding sensationalism, subjectivity, hate speech and must not tilt towards a person, group of persons or association without recourse to the ethics of the profession, just as bloggers and other online media practitioners must follow suit. If these elements are carefully and jealously observed, the quest for a free, fair and credible LG polls is very much in sight.

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