There is palpable fear and anxiety in Oyo State following the declaration of the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi to conduct the local government election in the state in September nine years after the last one held in the state.
This followed last week’s peaceful protest in the state by the state branch of the National Union of Transport Workers (NURTW) and the warm reception accorded them by the governor.
A lot of people are worried how a governor who had not had the courage to conduct the council polls in the last five years of his administration suddenly announced the date for the election few days after hosting the NURTW members led by their chairman, Alhaji Taofeek Oyerinde aka Fele.
According to Ajimobi, the newly-inaugurated Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission will conduct local government in September, this year, almost nine years after such election took place in the state.
The Governor gave the assurance while inaugurating the OYSIEC members at the Executive Council Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, on Friday, few days after NURTW members called on him after a protest round the state.
The protest of the NURTW members followed an initial protest by workers of the state who were demonstrating against the plans of the state government to sell government schools to private investors.
During the demonstration which was joined by students in the state, many properties including Ajimobi buses and private office of the governor at Oke Ado were damaged.
As a result, schools in the state were shut down on the orders of the state government.
However, while inaugurating the commission, the governor said that the election would be conducted three months after the electoral umpire was put in place in line with the provision of the Constitution.
Ajimobi also pledged to support the commission to ensure that they conducted transparent, free, fair and credible election in order to build the confidence of the people in the sanctity of balloting.
The new OYSIEC Chairman Mr. Ajeigbe Olajide, a native of Itesiwaju, Oke-Ogun Area of the state, was a former Head of Department Operations and later Training at the Oyo State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Other members are Mr. Adedeji Raheem, Mr. Abdul-Hamid Akuru, Mrs. Omolola Odekunbi, Mr. Rasheed Oyekanmi; a lawyer, Mr. Sunday Aborisade, Mr. David Adeagbo and Alhaji Bello Alabi.
Ajimobi said, “Today is a very remarkable day. This occasion is significant because we are taking a giant step today towards providing good governance at the grassroots.
“We are ready with all sincerity to conduct the local government election and I assure members of OYSIEC that the task before them is surmountable.
“Our government has not been able to conduct LG election due to some legal entanglement that has stalled our desire to fulfill the aspirations and yearnings of the people to elect their choice of chairmen.
“Today’s event is therefore consequent upon the thorough screening of members of the commission by the State House of Assembly and I make bold to say that they were appointed based on their pedigree.”
Local government election was last conducted in the state on December 15, 2007, during the regime of a former Governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala.
The ex-governor had shortly on assumption of office sacked the LG chairmen produced during the election conducted by his predecessor, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja, on the eve of his departure from office in 2007.
Both elections had been trailed by controversies following the landslide victory of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, which won all the 33 chairmanship seats at the expense of 13 other political parties that participated in the elections.
The PDP also won 349, out of the 361 councillorship seats in the December 15, 2007 LG election conducted by the PDP.
The governor stressed that the new OYSIEC members were non-politicians, God-fearing, well-educated and eminently capable of the task ahead of them.
Ajimobi promised to adhere strictly to constitutional provision that stipulates that election to LGs should take place three months after inauguration of the state electoral commission.
He assured the people that the September election would have all the tenets of transparency and credibility, which, he said, the state was known for.
The governor charged the new members of the commission to write their names in gold and make history with the proposed election by ensuring that the exercise was successful.
But a chairmanship aspirant, Mr Akinyemi Akinlabi has commended Gov. Ajimobi on the inauguration of Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) committee.
Akinlabi, who expressed his intention to contest the chairmanship position in Ibarapa Central Local Government area of the state, said the action of the governor was a demonstration of responsiveness to people’s demand.
He appreciated the governor for appointing reputable and trust worthy people, adding that he has proven again that his administration would conduct a transparent, free and credible election.
“The constitution of the OYSIEC is a demonstration of the governors responsiveness to the people’ request for a democratic local government, which has been made impossible by litigations by the opposition,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor had during the inauguration of OYSIEC said that the council poll would be held in September.
The choice of September was in line with the constitutional provision, which stipulated that election must take place within 90 days from the date of inauguration of the committee.
The governor had hinged the non-conduction of council since assumption of office in 2011 to litigations bothering on the formation of the past OYSIEC committees.
Akinlabi said that such would avail the people the opportunity of electing their representatives, which had been barred by the actions of the opposition.
He expressed intention to run for the chairmanship seat in the forthcoming council poll in the state, saying the people deserved better governance in the grassroots, to replicate the developmental strides in the state.
Akinlabi, an economist said that the state government deserved better complements at the grassroots level, adding that such complement required was from creative minds.
“The economic crisis experienced in the country today is a great hindrance to the transformational strides of the Ajimobi-led administration.
“This situation has spurred the administration to come up with revenue generating initiatives and a total re-engineering of potentials to shore up for the required revenue to continue with its developmental projects.
“Therefore, it behoves on public office seekers with creative ideas to come up, with intentions geared towards complementing the efforts of the governor at boosting the state’s economy,’’ he said.
“I used the opportunity to express my intention to contest and contribute to the building of the nation and the state’s economy,’’ he said.