BY ADEMOLA YAYA
THE ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State and Osun Independent Electoral Commission have defended the council elections they conducted on Saturday, 15th October, 2022 by citing Section 106 (1) of the 2022 Electoral Act which states, “A candidate for an election to the office of the Chairman shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office where being the only candidate nominated for the election he or she has – (a) a majority of YES votes over NO votes cast at the election; and (b) not less than one-third votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the wards in the Area Council: Provided that where the only candidate fails to be elected in accordance with this subsection, then, there shall be fresh nomination.”
Yes, they are very correct but this is half truth. The whole truth is that one cannot start building construction from the roof; it must begin from a solid foundation. Sections 28 and 29 of same Electoral Act that have to do with notice of election state: (Section 28) “The Commission shall, not later than 360 days before the appointed for holding of an election under this Act, publish a notice in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory – (a) stating the date of the election; and (b) appointing the place at which nomination papers are to be delivered.” And in Section 29(1), “Every political party shall, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, submit to the Commission, in the prescribed Forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.”
In preparation for last council elections in the state, OSIEC had on Wednesday, 18th October, 2017 at a meeting with representatives of all political parties, observed by the OSIEC Chairman, the same Chief Segun Oladitan, called for suggestions of possible date to fix for council elections so as to give room for the mandatory 90 days period as required by 2010 Electoral Act to be used for the election then. Hence, 27th January, 2018 was jointly considered and adopted by OSIEC and all political parties present.
The 2010 Electoral Act as amended in 2015 used to conduct the elections states in Section 30(1) “The Commission shall, not later than 90 days before the day appointed for holding election under this Act, publish a notice in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.”
The 3-year tenure of those elected to the councils on 27th January, 2018 was to expire by 5th February, 2021. Instead of organising another election back-to-back to the councils as stipulated by 1999 Constitution as amended and with OSIEC readiness to conduct elections, Governor Gboyega Oyetola rather looked away. In fact, if there was someone who didn’t want democratic election conduct in council, it is the outgoing Governor Oyetola. He preferred handpicking his cronies as LG Caretaker Committees which he had continued to renew every six-month. As a matter of fact, Mr. Oyetola still wrote the State Assembly in June 2022 for another six months extension of his council caretaker committees tenure which was to expire on 12th July, 2022 – 4 days to July 16 governorship election. The sudden change of mind and desperation of Mr. Oyetola to conduct council elections at all cost, legally or illegally, is understandable. Having been defeated in the July 16 governorship election by Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP, there was a need to put some structures on ground, especially at the grassrootsso as to be formidable in the forthcoming 2023 general elections. But you cannot have your cake and eat it (too). Oyetola and his OSIEC should have followed due process and 2022 Electoral Act to conduct the elections which would have been impossible, anyway, as Oyetola would have vacated Government House by the stipulated time frame in the Act.
Investigations revealed that the outgoing governor Oyetola had series of meetings with the leadership of other political parties apart from the PDP in Okefia Government House with the agenda to carry them along by making them partake in the council elections via conceding to them some councillorship positions. However, the parley hit a brick wall as Oyetola/Famodun APC faction was too greedy and not ready to cede any position. Hence, only the APC contested the October 15 council elections. Even within its household – Famodun/Oyetola APC- where more than one person bought nomination forms, no primaries were conducted but candidates were imposed on the members which led to series of protests till the so-called Election Day.
Every discerning mind knows that one can’t build something on nothing. From the foregoing, stipulated notice for election as stated in 2022 Electoral Act was not followed. The incoming PDP administration will certainly not fold its hands. It had already threatened to dissolve the council chiefs next month when it assumes power – 27th November, 2022. APC had also reacted that its members in the House of Assembly would impeach the PDP Governor should he attempt dissolution. It is instructive to note that APC will still enjoy majority in the State House of Assembly till 2023 general elections. Hence, the threat of impeachment could not be taken with levity. These days, however, no Governor would fold his/her hands and allow legislators impeach him/her especially on politically motivated matter like this; he has sufficient executive powers to make sure it never happens, irrespective of the chaos it may occasion. It is the improperly conducted election that will be blamed. In Nigeria history, there were only seven Governor Impeachment cases, which mainly happened in 2006 (Fifth Republic), with the last one, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa in July, 2014. For the records, the following is the list: Balarabe Musa of Kaduna – 23/6/1981; Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Balyelsa – 9/12/2005; Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo – 12/1/2006; Ayo Fayose of Ekiti -16/10/2006; Peter Obi of Anambra – 2/11/2006; and Joshua Dariye of Plateau -13/11/2006.
With the enormous power vested in the hands of the executives – President and Governors – their impeachments will take a yeoman job, sacrifice and determination from the legislators. But gone were the days. Nowadays, principles, commitments and dedications to the party no longer exist. A politician can have his/her breakfast in APC, lunch in PDP and dinner in ADP in a single day. Anyway, November 27 is fast approaching; we shall see how events will unfold.