By Kehinde Ayantunji
The Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC) has dismissed claims that Local Government Election would hold in December this year, saying the commission has no clear mandate on the conduct of the election.
The commission described the speculations as unnecessary, illegal and of no effect, adding that those making such declaration lack constitutional power to do so.
OSIEC by virtue of Section 197 of the 1999 constitution is empowered to conduct the local government election.
Chairman of the commission, Otunba Segun Oladitan while reacting to speculations that local government elections may hold in December this year said, the commission has not commenced any process to conduct the local government election.
He said, “It is annoying and ridiculous that people are fabricating local government election date in Osun, which is creating unnecessary tension and mounting political pressure on the stakeholders when in real sense such date was never discussed by the appropriate authorities”
“By law, OSIEC is the only authority saddled with constitutional responsibility to conduct local government election and as far as the commission is concerned, no month or day has been picked for the election and I urged the public to ignore such speculation”.
“Election is a serious business that involves many stakeholders, it must be consciously planned for in accordance with the existing laws, election under this leadership will never be spontaneous, and it would involve many stakeholders.”
When asked specifically on when the commission intends to conduct the election, Oladitan said the commission would conduct delineation exercise as empowered by law with the creation of the new Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) and Administrative Offices by the state government.
He said, with the new arrangement, the political delineation of some council areas were altered which require new voting and collation arrangements in compliance with the existing laws.
The chairman also explained that at the moment, there are no structures at the local government level that can effectively coordinate electoral activities in the existing 67 council areas and administrative offices which must be put in place before any election could hold.
“Local government election was last conducted 10 years ago without any major activities from the OSIEC, you cannot even find the presence of any facility at the local level.” “Aside all these, we have 90 days constitutional mandatory notice that must be complied with, and you must understand that we cannot just issue 90 days notices, we must have concluded all necessary arrangements in consultation with political parties, security agencies, and other stakeholders and draw a time table before the 90 days notices.”
The chairman also denied recruiting ad-hoc staff at the local government level for the purpose of conducting any election and warned members of the public not to fall victim of the fraudsters, assuring that the commission will adequately communicate the process for the election at the appropriate time.
The State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Kolapo Alimi was recently quoted by the media (not Osun Defender) that the local government election would hold not later than January next year, but there are no clear evidence that plans are ongoing for such election.
OSUN DEFENDER findings revealed that local government election expenditure was not in the 2017 budget as passed by the State House of Assembly except the commission through the State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola would request for the supplementary budget before the end of this fiscal year.
The last local government election was conducted in 2007 during the administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the acclaimed elected officers were sent out in 2010 by the supreme court for the failure of the then OSIEC to issue 180 days mandatory notice.
The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun State, Prince Gboyega Famoodun recently disclosed that Governor Aregbesola would conduct local government election before the 2018 gubernatorial election.
According to Famoodun, the state government and the APC were preparing to conduct elections into the local government offices across the 67 local governments and area councils in the state.
He attributed the delay in the conduction of the local government elections to a suit filed against the state government on the constitution of Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSSIEC) by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).