Local Government Election in Oyo state have been fixed for April 2024.
The declaration of the election date is the only statement opposition parties wishing to contest for positions against the ruling PDP should take without a pinch of salt. Even if OYSIEC for whatever reason shifts the election date, the election will still hold anyhow.
I have listened to several Press interviews and read several releases from OYSIEC about the Commission’s readiness to conduct ” free, fair and credible election”.
Whoever believes such assurances from the Electoral Commission must be living in another Planet.
State Electoral Commissions are pawns in the hands of the state Governors and OYSIEC is not an exception regardless of whoever heads the Commission and the promises from such individual.
The general belief in town is that opposition political parties can not be victorious in an election conducted by State Electoral Commissions.
I strongly disagree with such notions but I’m of the firm view that an opposition political party that intends to be victorious in such an election must be methodical, strategic and persistent in approach, planing and execution of Its activities.
There have been instances of the opposition winning elections conducted by State Electoral Commissions in Iseyin, Iwajowa and Ibarapa East Local Governments in the past.
Barrister Olagunju SAN was the OYSIEC Chairman in 2021 as he is today.
He superintended over the conduct of the 2021 Local Government Election in Oyo state.
Prior to the conduct of the said election, he made heavy weather of his determination to conduct ” free, fair and credible election” as he is presently doing but such promises were just mere talks when the chips were down, most especially in Ido and Ibarapa East Local Governments where the election were actually contested.
Voters and citizens of both Ibarapa East and Ido Local Governments will not forget the ugly incidents and experience of the election day in a hurry.
Like I’ve said, Local Government Elections can be won by an opposition political party that gets Its acts correctly and the starting point is to not believe in the assurances of the Electoral Body.
The OYSIEC Law of Oyo state is not porous.
It is the Electoral Body which in most cases, acting under instructions that tend to polute the Law.
The first thing is for every participating opposition political parties to get a copy of the Law and the election guidelines in good time and avail themselves of the powers of the Commission and the rights of the political parties.
Having done that, political parties must ensure that important details like prior inspection of electoral materials before election day, proper documentation of sensitive materials like ballot papers and results sheets and insistence on having different codes for different local governments ballot papers are enforced.
There is nothing in the OYSIEC Law that says collation and announcement of successful chairmanship candidates must be done in the OYSIEC headquarters in Ibadan.
Political parties must ensure that collation of results and announcements are made from the polling units, ward collation centers and Local Governments collation centers as the OYSIEC Law stipulates are strictly adhered to.
Thank God the Commission have declared that the Amotekun Corp will not participate in the election.
That is a good one but the political parties must still be vigilant about this and not just take it to the Bank.
There is a loophole created in the guidelines for Local Governments election by OYSIEC and that is the issue of means of identification on election day.
The rule is that Drivers license and other means of identification will be acceptable.
There is a danger here which is not too difficult to remedy. Political parties only need to appoint well educated and bold individuals as Party Agents.
No matter what anybody does, the OYSIEC will largely if not totally appoint partisan PDP members as Electoral and Returning officers.
The most likely reason why the means of identification have been expanded is to create room for multiple voting and such vices.
Fortunately, there is nowhere in the OYSIEC Law where the Commission is empowered to generate a voter register on Its own. It will still rely on the voter register generated by INEC and which was used for the last general election.
That is the reason opposition political parties must ensure that experienced and educated individuals man the polling units as Party Agents. They must ensure that all voters who come out to vote, regardless of the means of identification, have their names on the voters register.
It is also imperative for opposition political parties to vote and monitor their votes from the polling units to the ward collation centers and the Local Government collation centers.
If political parties can ensure strict adherence to all this, the State Electoral Commission will have Its wings clipped.