A political scientist, Dr Stephen Lafenwa, has called on Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State to tender apology to people for not conducting local government elections in the last seven years.
Lafenwa, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Friday.
He spoke against the backdrop of the announcement made by the state’s Independent Electoral Commission (OYSEIC) to conduct election into the 33 local government areas (LGAs) and 35 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) on May 12.
According to him, in the last seven years, Oyo State Government has not conducted any local government election.
“This is contrary to Section 7 of the constitution which says that a democratically elected local government council is guaranteed.
“What they have been doing is illegality.
“I will advise that if they want people to really participate in this election, they have to first of all apologise to people; enough of flimsy excuses,” he said.
Lafenwa said that the state government owes the residents of the state an apology for delaying local government polls for seven years.
He said that the state government should also make the electoral body accountable in the upcoming election in order to encourage popular participation in the subsequent elections.
“They should make sure that the umpire is accountable, regardless of the outcome of the election, and should also take responsibility for whatever lapses that are going to happen at the end of the day.
“We wouldn’t want a situation whereby they will only announce the winners and not the results, because that is what is in vogue now.
“You hear that these are the winners; they don’t care about the results.
“Imagine an election where we have members of the opposition parties in the House of Assembly, but when they conduct local government elections, you see that the ruling party will clear all the seats.
“That is why people don’t believe in our political elites; this time around let us put OYSIEC to test and see whether they are going to deliver or not,” he said.
Lafenwa also advised the state government to address certain fundamental issues arising from the creation of LCDAs to ensure that the main objectives of creating them were achieved before considering local government elections.
He said that the exercise was targeted at taking away the autonomy of the local government, which he said was duly recognised by the nation’s constitution.
“They are planning to conduct elections into the LCDAs which are not recognised by the constitution; that is another way of committing illegality, which is not being checked.
“If we want to pass Local Administration Law which takes away the autonomy of the local government, let us pass it.
“We should not be running local governments in contradiction of what the constitution states.
“Until there is another pronouncement by the constitution that local government the autonomy should be withdrawn, they should allow them to exercise their autonomy.“Local governments should also be free to develop their areas and held accountable for their actions.
“If the existing local government areas were effectively run the way they should, government will be very close to the people and there will be no need for creation of LCDAs,” Lafenwa said.
The political scientist said that the state government had “grossly eroded” the purpose of bringing the government closer to the people due to long delay in conducting local government elections.