As the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission commences the process of conducting election into the council areas across the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have disagreed on the entrenchment of parliamentary system at the local government level.
While the APC said the system is cost effective and would reduce the cost of governance at the local level, the PDP disagreed and noted that its participation in the council election in the state would be subjected to deliberations among the party stakeholders.
It would be recalled that the Osun State House of Assembly had in the course of the reform of local government amended the relevant section of the state Local Government (Creation and Administration) Law 2015 to reflect that the structure of government at the councils would be parliamentary.
Mr Diran Odeyemi of the PDP said though his party has registered with the OSSIEC, but it would later come up with the party decision on whether to participate in the election or not, as the proposed system is not in agreement with the Presidential System which is in operation in the country.
“I don’t agree that the system will reduce the cost of governance at the local government and I don’t succumb to it at all. I don’t think practicing it at the local government will make any impact; it would even make it worse.
“It is alien to us in Osun and I am sure not everybody understands what the government intends to do, therefore, we cannot say specifically whether we will participate or not. We will study the situation and at the appropriate time we will come up with our decision.
“Though our party has registered, but that is the first step to another step. If we don’t register and at the end we decide to participate, then we would have lost out”, Odeyemi said.
Also, Mr Bamidele Salaam of the PDP said the party has no confidence in the OSSIEC, but has adequate confidence in the state electorates to change what he described as excessive ruling of the APC in the state.
“The PDP candid advice for the OSSIEC is that they should be objective, fair and try to conduct a free poll that would be acceptable to all stakeholders in the state and should not try to suppress the will of the masses”.
But the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi said, the PDP assertion was a clear demonstration of the ignorance of the constitution and determination to continue to swindle the people.
He said, the state is at liberty to decide to have a system at the local government that will suit its purpose, saying, “There is nowhere in the entire constitution where it is prescribed that particular system must be used for a local government poll”.
“For us to move forward and develop, there must be a change. We insist that the system is cheaper and it would attract more development at the local government level.
“It is nonsense to say that it is contrary to the provision of the constitution and it shows that a party which is aimlessly striving to govern the state has no knowledge of the constitution, rather, they just base their argument on personal opinion”.
He said, the APC is comfortable with the parliamentary system of government that would be instituted at the local government as part of the restructuring conducted at the council to fit into the realities of the time.
“The Presidential system of government we practice is expensive and administration ought to be in accordance with your capability rather than having to run an expensive system. We have to think out of the box to be able to meet the numerous demands of the people and ensure good governance for all.
“If one is contesting for Local Government Chairman under the Presidential system, the tension is always very enormous, the polity is heated and the contestants would have to engage in a lot of political manipulation to become a chairman.
“But in the new system, once you campaign within your ward and win the councillorship ticket all you need to do is rally your fellow councilors and you could be the council chairman. It is cost effective and less stressful”, Oyatomi added.
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Barrister Bukola Onifade said the structure of administration of local government is a constitutional matter and stakeholders must allow the process to be concluded even if they have reservation for the system.
He added that the constitution allowed the state to make law for local government but such law must not be in conflict with the constitution of the land from which every other arm derives its powe
Group Questions Legality of Proposed Parliamentary System
In the meantime, A socio-political group, Lamido Liberation Group (LLG) Osun State chapter, has faulted the State Governor’s proposal for a parliamentary system of Government in the coming Local Government election.
The Chairman of the group, Isa Fayenuwo made this position known at the group’s meeting in Osogbo, the state state capital insisting that the proposed parliamentary system would be a contradiction to the present system of government in the state.
He also questioned the legality of this sudden change in political arrangement only in Osun, without the input of the National Assembly.
“It is difficult to believe that a state could just wake up and initiate it’s own separate law outside the extant law of the country.
“What we practice in Nigeria is presidential system of Government, at the Federal, State and local levels, so why should Osun’s own be different?
“This will be a radical departure from what we are used to. The Opposition party should have reacted officially to this. Even if such a thing would happen, the National Assembly should be notified and allowed to pass a bill on it”, Fayenuwo stressed.
It would be recalled that Governor Aregbesola recently approved the commencement of parliamentary system of government at the grassroots, with the creation of 31 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
The LCDAs were in addition to the existing 30 local government areas in the state.
Aregbesola in a state live broadcast also announced the creation of three Councils and two Administrative Offices.
He explained that the new LCDAs were created based on the request of the people to expand the scope of local government administration and enhance their participation, adding that they not impose any financial burden on the State.