“THE APPOINTMENT OF OBAFEMI HAMZAT AS CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE HAS BEEN GREETED WITH MISGIVINGS AND UTTER OPPOSITION BY PARTY MEMBERS IN IFAKO IJAYE”
One Intrinsic element of democracy is the freedom to choose. This freedom is enshrined in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended. Freedom to choose could best be described as liberal democracy. Ours must be the most convoluted system of them all, so twisting and winding to be considered ideal or deserving of a supposed urbane environment like ours.
The Nigerian politician must be a special human specimen, who is condition to act in predetermined ways, just so, he reacts or responds to situations created by him.
It is unnerving to realise that twenty one years into a jerky democratic engagement, we are unable or maybe I should say, we have refused to allow for a democratic culture which provides for free choice.
This deficit and impropriety has a telling effect on the polity. Imposition of candidates, which is thinly veiled as consensus, has become more like a poisoned chalice.
It reminds one of President Obasanjo’s choice candidate — an infirm and feeble late Yar’Adua. Bola Tinubu handpicked his then Chief of Staff, Babatunde Raji Fashola. Evidence of this blatant disregard for the choice of the people is abound in every state of the federation.
This trend which has now morphed into a convention in Nigeria political terrain has long found its way into the grassroot and local government administration in Nigeria when the powers that be and influential political actors foist chairmanship and councillorship candidates on hapless electorates at municipal level of governance.
As the Lagos State local government election draws near, the issue of candidates imposition has, yet again, come to the fore and has become hot and contentious issue of public discourse, especially for residents and stakeholders in Ifako Ijaye Local Government area of the State.
The inauguration of the 15-member All Progressives Congress (APC) committee to set the modalities and preparation of guidelines for the forthcoming local council elections in Lagos state, which is headed by Deputy Governor of the State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, an indigene of Ifako Ijaiye, has ruffled feathers to no end especially among APC members, residents and stakeholders in the local government.
The appointment of Obafemi Hamzat as chairman of the committee has been greeted with misgivings and utter opposition by party members in Ifako Ijaye as his sincerity and integrity are being vehemently questioned.
The opposition of stakeholders in Ifako to his appointment as head of the committee stems from the conflict of interest as there are reports that his brother Usman Hamzat, who’s the incumbent deputy chairman of ifako Ijaye LGA, is also vying for chairmanship, and he’s ready to leverage and ride on the influence and position of his brother in the committee to actualise his aspiration.
Moreso, there is unsettling growing public sentiment against Hamzat regarding his membership of the committee coupled with the fact that party members in many local governments, especially in Mushin, Ifalko/Ijaiye and Epe are complaining bitterly over the undue and unfair appointment of Hamzat, given the fact that he is a party leader in Mushin and Epe LGs, and his recent attempt to consolidate his political career by extending his overbearing influence to ifako Ijaye and making it his stronghold has riled up even the most passive political actors in the local governments.
In light of the above, it therefore behooves Hamzat to as a matter of fairness and probity to recuse himself from the committee as his membership of the committee calls into question his integrity and true party man.
Aside from the fact that this unpleasant development amounts to brazen subversion of will of the people and undermining of the country’s democracy and electoral process, it brings into question the genuineness of the APC in deepening our fragile democracy, for a party that came to power riding on goodwill of the people and through seamless and efficient electoral process, this latest development is worrisome and dispiriting.
All men and women of means and good conscience must weigh in on the situation and prevail on deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat to do the needful by stepping down from the committee and allow for transparent, credible and fair selection process that will reflect the will of the people.