Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Tunde Balogun believes that the Lagos State Independent National Electoral Commission (LASIEC) is an unbiased umpire. In this interview with OLADIPUPO AWOJOBI, Balogun appealed to members of the public to be part of the process, adding that the party would soon begin its campaign for the elections.
There are allegations of imposition of candidates in some LGs and LCDA in your party’s primary elections, what is your take on this as there are issues in places such as Amuwo-Odofin LG and Ojokoro LCDA?
We have a constitution as a party and we had our primary elections on May 29 in all the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state. Of course, we were working with some guidelines of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC). They have guidelines on what to do and when to do it concenring the elections.
After the primary elections of May 29, they gave us a guideline on when to submit the names of our candidates. But within the period given by the electoral body to submit the names of the candidates we needed to do something and submit the names. So we published the list of our candidates in some national newspapers. But, when we went through our process, the electoral body that conducted the primary elections in the party discovered that the returning officers in both Amuwo Odofin LG and Ojokoro LCDA made some mistakes and that some things were inconclusive.
When we concluded we discovered that some people, whose names were erroneously published were not the real winners. Of course the party has three ways through which our candidates emerge. It is either through direct or indirectly primaries or through consensus. There were no clear winners in these local governments and we had to publish the names at the time we did because we must have candidates for the offices otherwise we will lose the local governments to the opponents.
That was why we published some names tentatively. When the final results came out, we discovered that in Ojokoro LCDA it was somebody else that won the primary. So, the name of the candidate changed. For Amuwo-Odofin Local Government, in order to give the aspirants fair hearing, we made them to face the appeal committee.
The name of Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu was published as our Chairmanship candidate in Amuwo/ Odofin LG initially, his main opponent, Hon. Valentine Braimoh, went to the Appeal Committee and they went through the process. The committee invited the Returning Officer for clarification. So, when they went through the whole process they discovered that the winner of Amuwo-Odofin LG primary should really be Hon. Braimoh and not Hon. Olorunrinu. The basis on which Hon. Braimoh appealed was upheld and the name had to change. That was what gave birth to the report of the appeal. Those are the events that played out in those two areas.
To what extent do you expect your Peace and Reconciliation Committee to work on the grievances of some of the aspirants in the local government primary elections?
The Peace and Reconciliation Committee is working round the clock now with our members to reconcile and appeal to some people so that they can be loyal to the party and listen to the voice of wisdom. We are one united party and we want everybody to be so. We want everyone to be peaceful and loyal to the party. That is why we are working round the clock so that nobody is left unattended to and we want to ensure that no views are left without being considered. We are doing that and we are doing it effectively.
How prepared is your party for the elections despite the crisis?
My party is prepared. We are prepared to work hard till the last days of the elections. We are opening up our official campaing very soon and we will let you know.
What is your message to members of the public as some people believe that it is a walk over for the APC as the ruling party in the state since that has been the trend in the country and that they don’t need to come out to vote?
The local government elections are not organised by the APC. It is conducted by LASIEC, which is headed by a renowned judge, Hon. Justice Ayotunde Philips. We don’t conduct the elections, we are like other parties. We should expect LASIEC, a notable commission, to perform its duties effectively. I don’t have any doubt about their fairness. I am sure that they are doing very well and a lot of people are expecting the best from them. The fact that our party is popular and is doing well has no effect on people’s perception about the fairness of the electoral umpire.
What is your message to the aggrieved members of the party as the election is approaches?
For the aggrieved members, they should know that you cannot win everytime, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Those who did not win this time should please wait, work with the party and make this place better.