Council Poll: Former Lagos Speaker, CP, others chart course for hitch-free electoral process 

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Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Sabitun Ikuforiji a

former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly and other stakeholders have counseled Nigerians to stop seeing elections as something that must be won at all costs as the July 24 council polls draws near, noting that issues based campaigns and the candidates strategies are the keys to gaining the support of voters.

Ikuforiji gave this advice in his keynote address as the Chairman of a stakeholders conference on the forthcoming Lagos State Local Government election,organized by the Centre for Human and Socio-Economic Rights(CHSR), held at the Right House Ikeja,Lagos over the weekend.
He said that our democracy faces numerous challenges,ranging from  corruption,nepotism,tribalism,inefficient public systems and citizen political apathy all of which had made grassroots democracy a mirage till date.
The sagacious legislator hinted that a drastic action need be taken, to stall the dwindling state of our democratic experience,while urging  political parties to regard politics and statesmanship as attainable goals.
” We must recognize that democracy is a collective responsibility. The people decide the issues of the day, which is both the beauty and the burden of democracy.
“When the people’s element of this government system is ignored,the entire system fails and such a nation will not progress.
“Electoral bodies,political parties,security agencies and citizens must all see themselves as stakeholders and active participants in the nation’s progress.”
He however, maintained that for us to have a true grassroot democracy,”INEC must not only be independent in theory but in reality and the body must recognize the sanctity of its role as the results of its conducts will determine the future for many years to come”.
“There has to be an attitudinal change among political stakeholders. A new electoral mindset has to emerge.”
“This society is afflicted with afflictions today because many citizens have a debased perception of national values,thereby placing individual priorities above national interest. It is expedient to keep in mind that leaders don’t drop from the sky like snow during winter.” Said Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji.
A guest speaker at the conference, the Commissioner of Police Lagos State,Hakeem Odumosu, who was represented by  the Deputy Commissioner of Police,Ahmed M.Kontagora (Operations) Lagos State Police Command,Ikeja issued a warning to all that have premeditated motive to reck havoc during and after the electoral process to eschew in its entirety the intent, citing their poise to combat such.
He called for better training and retraining through seminars and workshops for officers and other stakeholders, so as to engender a functional electoral process.
“Permit me at this juncture to issue a warning to those who would have purposed their minds to cause havoc before,during and after the elections to desist from doing so forthwith.
“The experiences the police have had in past elections have now formed a watershed that will factor effective and efficient police participation in the forthcoming local government election.
“For us to have a genuine grassroots democracy,it implies that the governments,political parties,regulatory bodies/umpires and other stakeholders must formulate policies that will enhance equal participation of all and sundry in political processes and decision making.
In his delivery,he cited that Police pledge to afford conducive/enabling atmosphere in other to realize the set objectives.

“As a roadmap for a successful outing in the forthcoming local government election,I enjoin the politician to shed the toga of intrigues,subterfuge,self-conceit and brinkmanship,so as to make way for the right culture of decency,responsibility and responsiveness to emerge in the political space.”

Barrister Olasupo Ojo,the Executive Director CENTROL LAW, who is also one of the guest speakers at the epoch making event harped on the need for more youthful participation in partisan politics as independent candidature is still not feasible in our clime.
Barr. Ojo maintained that the more the youths act in a parochial manner regarding the polity, no good political fortunes can come their way.
Earlier the President CHSR Alex Omotehinse, in his welcome address appraised the precarious situation of our national life in relation to pocket of skirmishes recorded in wake of the electoral process.
He noted that sensitisation of functionaries on dos and donts during the election is paramount.
“Youths should shun violence, take active part in partisan politics and eschew being used as thugs to snatch ballot boxes.
“The recent clampdown of every Nigerian that speaks against injustice in this country with fictitious,frivolous obnoxious charges is a serious threat and poses security challenge to our hard earned and most cherished democracy, rule of law, civility and corporate existence as villages,communities which makes the local government as third tier of government stands vulnerable.
“This must be resisted not only by freedom fighters/activists alone but by the Nigerian masses irrespective of their tribes, ethnic nationality,religion or political affiliations”.
He charged the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission to live above board in the conduct of the electoral process with internationally acceptable best practices and standard at the grassroots level.
He also called on security agencies to afford protection for all parties and officials during and after the electoral process.