FCT Council Election: Lessons And Implications

By Yusuf Shehu Usman

The just concluded FCT Area Council elections is a clear testimony to the fact that the local government Council elections conducted by the State Electoral Commissions across the country is a charade and an exercise that is manipulated by the various state governors to achieve a predetermined result
It is worthy of note that apart from Kaduna State that allows the opposition to win a few seats in the local government elections, the party in power in all the other States have continuously made a clean sweep of all the seats in Councils across the States
I believe that the FCT is different because Abuja is not a State and it has no governor that wields the kind of awesome powers governors exercise across the nation
The other reason and which is even more importantly is the fact the FCT elections are by the law and the Consttitution, conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which to a very great extent, is independent of the powers that be in the Federal Capital and the Area Councils that constitute it,
It is not possible to have such a relatively free, fair, transparent and credible electotal processes and results in the States, where the Electoral Commissions are appointed and funded by the governors of the party in power
The results of the FCT Area Council elections just concluded, revealed that the APC the Government in power at the centre clinched three Chairmanship seats, while the main opposition party at the center the PDP equally won three seats out of the six Area Councils that make up the Federal Capital Territory
It is pertinent and instructive to point out that the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) was won by the PDP , the party in opposition at the centre
The AMAC or Abuja Municipal in terms of population configuration, size and resources may be equated to three of the six Area Councils put together
It is no mean victory for the PDP to win this swing Area Council and bring it under it’s control side by side with the seat of the Federal Government (including the Aso Rock Villa, the official seat of the Federal Government and the official residence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
This victory brings the land territory of the most important Area Council in the Federal Capital, under the mini Political control of the PDP, the party in opposition
I believe only a free, fair, transparent and credible electotal process can make this happen and only an independent electotal umpire can withstand the enormous pressure not to manipulate the out come of the election
If Abuja had a replica of State Electoral Commissions, the result of the election would certainly have been different and would have gone the way of other local government Council elections conducted by the various State Electoral Commissions
The outcome of the just concluded FCT Area Council elections makes a very strong case in favour of those advocating a Consttitutional Amendment to scrap the State Electoral Commissions and transfer their powers and functions to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
I belong to this school of thought and I think the result of the FCT elections is a clear justification for this line of advocacy
But wait a minute! We are in Nigeria where elected representatives of the people can over night and almost virtually unilaterally upturn the people’s mandate by defecting to the same Parties they defeated in the polls and they do this with absolutely no consequences
I will therefore not be surprised if either before or after the 2023 general elections, all or most of the Chairmen and councillors elected in the FCT elections become members of the APC or the PDP through defection, a process which has come to be considered normal and acceptable in our peculiar brand of democracy
Only time will tell


Apathy Is Natural And Inescapable

The very low turn out and voter apathy in local government elections is due to the fact that the local governments have been relegated to a position of insignificance and rendered powerless by the governors
The people don’t have much to look for from the local governments because they don’t have anything to give them im terms of developement
The local governments don’t build roads, don’t build or maintain schools or hospitals, don’t have social safety nets to empower their citizens, they can’t even sweep the streets for the people
If you consider all these issues, you will not be surprised that the people are not interested in wasting their time, leaving the pursuit of their businesses and standing under the scorching sun to vote in a local government election from which they would derive no benefits
It’s a sheer waste of valuable time to engage in an exercise that would add no value to their lives and that would not solve their pressing problems
I think that also explains why the Governors take advantage of the apathy to conduct local government Council elections in the manner they do across the country
Nobody apart from the governors seems interested in the outcome of such travesties called local government Council Elections
They allow the governments in power in the States, sweep the polls and record land slide “victories” and the people can’t even care less!
The FCT is the only exception to this charade and Political contraption called local government polls

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