The continuing delay in the conduct of local government elections is a clog in the wheel of progress in Oyo state. Local governments are grassroots government and for federal and state developmental programmes to trickle down to the rural areas the local governments have to be manned by democratically elected representatives of the people such that, they are accountable to the people,independent and free from the overbearing control and influence of the state government who appointed them in the case of caretaker local government appointees.
We have all expected that a supposedly progressive ACN government will deviate from the usual anti-democratic antics of its predecessors by ensuring that local government elections were held a few months after, but now three years afterwards it’s the same old story. Caretaker local government chairmen and councilors still continue to control the affairs of the 33 local governments in the state. Far more disturbing is the fact that there is no visible sign that the elections will hold anytime soon.
Concerned indigenes of the state have continued to voice their concerns at this disturbing development. Rather than start the process that would lead to the conduct of elections in the state, the state government has continued to argue that it would amount to contempt of court for it to urge the State House of Assembly to proceed with the screening and clearance of the chairman and members of OYSIEC already forwarded to the House of Assembly by the state governor. In view of the judgment of a High Court sitting in Ibadan stating that the dissolution of the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) by the Oyo State government on June 2, 2011 was unconstitutional, null and void. The court was also reported to have declared that the dissolved members are entitled to continue functioning as officers in their various capacities until their tenure of office lapse on September 5, 2012.
From the above it is obvious that the Ajimobi led Oyo State government is only being mischievous since there has been a precedent of such a situation when the Otunba Alao Akala led Oyo state government dissolved the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) before the expiration of the tenure of the officers appointed by the Ladoja government. An Oyo State High Court Presided over by Justice P.O. Ige, now of the Court of Appeal, in its judgement on the case held that the OYOSIEC officials were illegally sacked and declared their sack null and void. It ordered that their entitlements up to the expiration of their tenure of office in 2008 be paid.With such a precedent, no one would expect the Ajimobi government to have made the same mistake, let alone taking the case to the appeal court. One would have expected the government to settle the entitlements of these officers and let sleeping dogs rest just as it claimed to have settled those of 2003-2008 based on a similar judgement.
Critics from certain quarters have argued that the ACN is only bidding for time as the party is currently in disarray in Oyo state due to leadership tussle between the governor and other gladiators on the one hand and inter-party squabbles on the other. The welfare of the state and its people is far greater than any other consideration and the continuing perpetuation of illegality under the guise ofa court order is a mere ruse, while not encouraging the disregard of the ruleof law. The state government was reported to have still gone ahead to demolish certain structures in its ongoing dualisation of roads exercise in Ibadan even though there was a court order to the contrary.
As is, appointments to local government positions are being done on compensatory and appeasement bases without regard to the capacity of those these positions are been dole out to. Local governments in Oyo state are being short changed and a shadow of their usually boisterous selves and the average man is at the losing end. For any meaningful development and transformation to take place in the state, local governments officials must be democratically elected people who are responsible and committed to the people. The government should ensure that local government elections are held in the next few months in the interest of the people of Oyo state. The court order has in no way stopped local government elections from holding; it had only declared the dissolution of Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) by the Oyo State government before the expiration of their tenure in office unconstitutional, null and void. The court was also reported to have declared that the dissolved members are entitled to the emoluments from the day of their sack to the end of their tenure on September 5, 2012.
It is just about twelve months to the end of the current 2011-2015 tenure Instead of continuing to play to the gallery and complete the current tenure without democratically elected officials at the local government level in Oyo state. The state government can elect to withdraw it appeal from the court of appeal and settle all contending issues and the entitlement of the former OYSIEC officials as prescribed by the High Court, go ahead to constitute a new OYSIEC, and conduct local government elections in the next few months in the interest of the people.