Stakeholders call for increased public participation in Lagos LG election
By Aisha Abass
Hundreds of stakeholders on Monday called for increased public participation in the forthcoming Local Government election in Lagos. The election holds later in July.
At a the opening ceremony of stakeholders held at the Afe Babalola Hall, University of Lagos, representatives of the major political parties in Lagos, traditional rulers, civil society and the media underlined the importance of free, fair and credible local government election saying it is crucial to deepening democracy and grassroots participation in governance.
The event ‘Y2021 Local Government Elections Stakeholders’ Forum’ with the theme ‘Taking Ownership of the Electoral Process-Citizen Participation’ was organised by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, (LASIEC) in conjunction with Greysand Global Resources Limited
In his welcome address, the Chairman, LAISEIC, Justice Ayotunde Philips (rtd), said the purpose of the event was to engage all the critical stakeholders, the political parties, traditional rulers, faith-based groups and voters towards having a fair, credible and free election. She said the forum was brought together to strengthen effective public in the democratic process.
In his presentation, the lead consultant, Mr Adeyinka Jeje said Lagos is unique in the sense that the state represents the history of democratic struggle in Nigeria which began centuries ago saying that it was important for local government elections to be held in line with the tradition of excellence in the state. He said the agenda of the summit was to ensure ‘free, fair and credible election’ adding that to achieve the goal, participation in the process is the key.
He emphasized the reason for the forum as a means of educating the citizens on electoral process and the need for them to participate. He said the reason why there has been shortcoming in elections for a long time is because people have stopped taking ownership of the electoral process. He said the only way to take ownership is for people to get involved and participate in the electoral process and elections.
Lagos has the highest number of voters in Nigeria however, participation in local government elections have always seen a consistent lull, a feature not restricted to Lagos State alone.
In his presentation, a lead speaker, Mr Adeola Asiwaju, said citizens can take ownership of their votes and elections. He said “we cannot talk of effective participation, if we are selling our voting rights”. He asked citizens to stop collecting gifts especially cash gifts from candidates of elections. He said doing this takes away the ownership of their voting rights, thereby giving chances to the winner of elections to do nothing at all. He also said “citizens abandoning their rights of ownership due to conclusions that their choice of candidate won’t win is not right”. He said citizens should not draw conclusions quickly, instead, they should go out and cast their votes for their choice of candidates. Others at the event included the Permanent Secretary, Mr Samson Ajibade, traditional rulers, traditional chiefs in Lagos, LAISEC top officials, labour, civil society and the media. The event continues tomorrow with and ends on Thursday.
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