By Mustapha AbdulWahab
Wait! How did we get here in Kwara State?
From the suspension of LG Chairmen for corrupt practices without proper investigation. Through, the illegal dissolvement of the Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASIEC), and to the State government steering the affairs of the Local Government areas illegally. Tell me please, how did we allow our governance to degenerate to this level of Illegality.
It should be recalled in one of the constructive criticisms of a social commentator, Sulaiman Abdulwaheed Olamilekan, he opined that “Governance and Politics are more of a siamese twins- they are inseparable, but when politics overrun the former, most especially dirty polity, governance will obviously remains a thousand miles far away.”
Taking a brief look into the reason the Kwara State Local Governments chairmen were suspended indefinitely till their tenure elapsed and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) failed to publish an exclusive report on their investigations.
And as the legal battle between the Governor and the KWASIEC is in vogue but in disfavour of the people at the grassroots, the Kwara state government must be wary of aberrations and illegalities engender at our local governments if the local government election in the state is not conducted as time goes by.
The laws regulating and governing and conduction of local government elections in Kwara State are the 1999 Constitution as amended and the Kwara State Local Government Electoral Law Cap K 32 of 2006, The 1999 constitution as amended provides in section 7 (1) as follows:-
“The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed and accordingly the government of every state shall subject to section 8 of this constitution ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment structure composition, finance and functions of such councils’.”
A careful perusal of the provisions cited above, shows that the constitution or establishment of any form of administrative structure in the local councils by whatever name called aside from a democratically elected council is therefore illegal, null and void.
Shall I remind you on how the tenure of the suspended local government chairmen in Kwara was handled by the dumbable master-at-arms till their expiration of office? Mr. Governor played a glaring Politics to dislodge these set of people from office instead of using a legal means to fight the course. It is hubris imperialism to say, the steady suspension of the chairmen and the sheer silence of the antigraft agency on their involvement in the alleged misappropriation of funds in their respective LGs speaks volumes in that direction.
Also, drawing realities from the lingering legal battle enmeshed between the Kwara state Government and the illegally dissolved Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission which hinders the reconstitution or eventual reinstatement of the election umpire saddled with the responsibility of conducting election at the third tiers of government. It is never an overstatement to say that Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, is a brigadier general like who believes he can fire and hire without a prior recourse to a legal advise. Quite unfortunate to say that every Tom, Dick and Harry would agree with me that the decision of the Govenor to dissolve this election umpire without sorting an upright legal advise led to this kefurfle. How long will this needless legal battle embarked upon by Mr. Governor hanged between heaven and earth? Well, no Jupiter can tell.
Now that the Judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria on 29th September 2020 declared illegal the dissolution of KWASIEC on 20th of August 2019. The summary of the judgment delivered by Hon Justice K. D. Damulak was: that the removal of the claimant is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void. The Court also held that the claimant is entitled to be reinstated to his office as member, Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission and be paid all his salaries and allowances from August 2019 until the end of his tenure in 2022.
Going by the judgement, the general knowledge is that there are plethora of decided legal authorities on the illegality of dissolution of tenured statutory Commission appointments in Nigeria. If this one goes on appeal the result cannot be different and the Governor by going on appeal will only be buying time and in the process waste the time of the people and crumble democracy at the local level in Kwara State.
We cannot but say that the issue above is a clear breach of peace and order in the State which is not expected of a leader presumed to be making proper consultation with stakeholders.
The Kwara State Local Government Electoral Law particularly section 7 (3) that states thus:-
“The elections referred to in subsection (2) of this section shall be held on a day not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office”.
Now that the great lion in the Kwara State Government house has illegally silenced the KWASIEC from doing its legal duties and also have failed to constitute another team (KWASIEC) to oversee the smooth transition of the Kwara State local government chairmen.
It is incontrovertible that AA still wishes to hoard the authority to govern the LGAs without his excess being checked.
Confirming this deduction, an exclusive report by Musa Aliu will suffice. In his words: “The government of Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak must account for the sum of Forty One Billion, Two Hundred and Fifty One Million, Six Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty-Five Naira and sixty eight Kobo (N41,251,620,745.68) representing the allocations of the sixteen Local Government councils of Kwara State for past sixteen months (May, 2019-August, 2020).”
I do not want to agree that our Governor is illegally hoarding and amassing wealth through the strengthening of the LGA’s Directors of Personnel Management to steer the affairs of the LGAs.
All of these and many issues left undiscussed are sacrosanct issues that call for immediate attention should we want Kwara State LGA’s effectively perform.
My constructive way forward is that the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, reinstate the dissolved commission and immediately set in motion the machinery for the conduct of the already due Local Government election in Kwara State. In the same vein, should the Governor decide to go on appeal, posterity will question Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as to why he failed to engender Constitutionality and denied the voiceless their political franchise.