Less than 11 days count down to the deadline issued to political parties’ for the conduct of primaries ahead of the forthcoming Local Government election in the State of Osun, political parties preparations are at low ebb, as many parties are yet to formulate direction and guidelines for the conduct of the primaries.
Within the ruling All Progressive Congress, (APC), hundreds of aspirants are awaiting party guidelines for the party primary while the leading opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to take a firm stand on its participation in the January 27,2018 election. Other political parties are attributing low preparation to pending wards enumeration lists before the State House of Assembly.
The State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC) on Tuesday announced the adjustment in the election time table, extending the period for political party primaries period to November 21, 2017 against the earlier date of slated November 13. According to the commission, the shift was in line with the request of the registered political parties for adequate preparation.
Chairman, State Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), Dr Idowu Omidiji said political parties requested for the extension of time pending the release of the ward delineation lists approved by the state House of Assembly. He said failure to timely approve the ward enumeration lists by the lawmakers has made it difficult for them to determine the wards and local governments where their candidates belong with the creation of the new LCDA and administrative offices.
Meanwhile, despite the uncertainty over the APC primaries, some wards and local governments have already concluded their primaries. In some wards, party executives and delegates elected their candidates while others adopted affirmation.
Osun Defender findings across the state revealed that majority of APC members are still waiting for the party primary committee and directive for the open primary to elect their councillorship candidate for the election. But one of the members of the state working committee of APC who pleaded anonymity said the primary arrangement will be based on the choice of aspirants and leaders in various local governments.
He said, “Where they agree to go to primaries by all the aspirants, the party will uphold it and where there is an agreement based on leadership consensus the party will up hold it but in any local government where they are unable to resolve it, the state leadership will take charge and take final decision.”
In a telephone interview with the APC state Director of Media Research and Publicity, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi said there may not be any special guideline for the party, rather the guidelines provided by OSSIEC.
“The most important guideline for primary elections are ones provided by OSSIEC and I can assure you that we are going to comply with it substantially, our party may not necessarily released any guideline, but in picking candidates we are going to put into consideration at least 33 per cent women representation”. Oyatomi said.
However, developments in PDP are not pointing to any direction towards the party readiness to participate in the local government election, though it has registered with OSSIEC to participate and sent representatives to some of the OSSIEC meetings with political parties. Apart from the leadership tussle in the party, PDP appeared not be comfortable with the parliamentary arrangement and majority of their members are insisting on presidential system which is operational at the centre.
One of the party’s candidates in the 2010 aborted election, Kanmi Ajibola has already filed a suit against OSSIEC and the state house of assembly seeking the repeal of the 2017 Local Government Administration amended law that recognised parliamentary system. But a highly placed source within the party who was a former commissioner said if eventually the party will participate in the election, it might not conduct any primary but rather re-present all the 2010 party candidates in the aborted election.
In a related development, the state chapter of National Conscience Party has petitioned OSSIEC, accusing it of demanding a compulsory payment of the sum of N100,000 from candidates of all the political parties participating in the local government elections, scheduled for January 27, 2018. NCP also threatened to take a legal action against the commission, if it refused to withdraw the charges within seven days of the petition.
In the petition, addressed to the Chairman, OSSIEC, Otunba Segun Oladitan, by Yinka Muyiwa, on behalf of the NCP Deputy National Chairman, South West, Alhaji Waheed Lawal, the party wondered why the electoral body would place such a huge administrative charge on all candidates desirous of leading the people at the grassroots levels.