Peoples Digest Online- The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Lagos has suspended its planned protest against the imposition of administrative fees on candidates contesting the July 22 council poll by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC). IPAC, made up of the 22 registered political parties in the state, suspended its decision at its emergency meeting in Lagos on Monday. The resolution to suspend the protest, scheduled for Tuesday by the endorsement of 19 out of the 22 political parties present, followed the downward review of the fees by LASIEC.
The electoral commission had reviewed the fees from N100,000 to N50,000 for Chairmanship candidates, N75,000 to N30,000 for Vice-Chairmanship and N50,000 to N20,000 for councillorship candidates. The review followed appeals by IPAC and threats that it would embark on protest if the old fees were not reviewed. Speaking after the overwhelming vote against the planned protest, IPAC Chairman, Mr Kola Ajayi, said the action was no more necessary as LASIEC had acceded to the request of parties.
He commended LASIEC for the concession and lauded political parties with the unity of purpose with which they opposed the initial fees. “This is a remarkable resolution as there is no need for us to embark on the planned protest since LASIEC has agreed with us to slash the fees. “We are happy we started from N150,000 for the chairmanship candidates, then we negotiated with LASIEC to N100,000 and we have succeeded to get it further reduced to N50,000. “This is what democracy is all about. We thank LASIEC for listening to us and we thank all the political parties for their resoluteness,” he said.
He said that the council executive had met Justice Ayotunde Phillips, Chairman of the commission, on Friday on the need for a downward review and that she had promised to respond to the request. IPAC expressed the belief that the election would be free and fair also as promised by Phillips. Ajayi said that IPAC was worried by the case of violence at the mock primary of a political party recently.He said that the council was engaging the security agents on how to avert violence in the party primaries and at the council poll. “We met with the Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, and he assured us of protection at our parties’ primaries. “We are passionate about the success of the election and we will continue to engage stakeholders to make that happen,” he said.
However, the National Conscience Party (NCP), the only party that voted against the suspension, condemned the downward review. The Chairman of the party, Fatai Ibu-Owo, said during the meeting that any thing short of outright cancellation of the fees was not acceptable to the party. “NCP is disappointed that other parties are cheering at the review.We will insist that the fees even If they lower than that are illegal. “We are already challenging the illegal fees in court and we are sure of justice against these fees. Ibu-Owo accused the other political parties of colluding with LASIEC to put a question mark on the credibility of the poll. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that LASIEC has fixed July 22 for the council polls and July 29 for runoff.