The governorship candidates of opposition political parties in Lagos State have kicked against the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to engage the services of the Parks Management Committee, PMC, led by Musiliu Akinsanya otherwise known as MC Oluomo, for the distribution of electoral materials during the forthcoming general election.
The candidates also rejected the claims by the INEC that the Oluomo’s PMC was the only available option for election logistics including the movement of personnel, stressing that the park managers are members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Their concerns came on the heels of a statement credited to the Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Olusegun Agbaje, that the INEC was not concerned about the person MC Oluomo but about individual drivers and vehicle owners, to meet up with the high volume of logistics needs for the elections.
Speaking in Lagos on Thursday, during a joint press briefing held in Lekki and attended by the Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, his counterparts from Action Democratic Congress (ADC), Funsho Doherty; the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Kunle Uthman; and BOOT Party, Olawale Oluwo, the candidates stated that Oluomo and his members had openly declared their support for the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and therefore, should not be engaged by the electoral body.
Expressing his displeasure over the commission’s decision, Rhodes-Vivour said that the move by REC was at variance with the free and fair election promises made to Nigerians by INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu,
According to Rhodes-Vivour, the determinant factor of the credibility of any electoral process is the integrity of the electoral umpire, noting that once an electoral umpire lacks integrity and is biased in delivering its duty, such person or institution inadvertently weakens the credibility of the process.
He said: “This institution (PMC) is headed by MC Oluomo; someone that is known to hold a massive rally for the presidential candidate of the All Democratic Party (APC), Bola Tinubu. This is someone who has taken full charge of the institution.
“We are here to engage the public, that this is unacceptable and we must find another solution to moving electoral materials in Lagos.”
The LP candidate argued that the Commission’s intention to engage operators of Lagos parks to distribute sensitive election materials was laced with challenges, due to the association’s partisanship.
“Relying on partisan institutions to manage an election, in which they are an interested party, is not only mischievous but ridiculous. It is not something that we are going to accept,” he declared.
On his part, Doherty cautioned INEC not to allow logistics provision by Mc Oluomo and his members, who were all staunch members of the APC affect the credibility the commission had built over the years.
His words: “When you think about the electoral process, one of the most critical things is the chain of custody of election materials. If you cannot guarantee the custody of election materials, it is not right to the subject that custody to an agency governed and controlled by the ruling party and headed by an individual, who has been a staunch supporter of the ruling party.”
Also speaking, Oluwo said after speaking with his constituents in almost all the local councils in the state, the feedback was that of apprehension that the INEC decision if carried out, would not ensure a free and fair election.
He urged the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to address the issue and ensure a peaceful and credible election.
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