The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Friday, 29th August, 2014, received the report of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) on delineation of wards and creation of additional polling units in the state, affirming that the state government would take all further actions necessary on the report.
The Governor, who spoke at the Lagos House, Marina, added that he would not only read the report, he would also ensure that members of the government that are tasked with the responsibility of taking further action on reports of commissions and investigations swing into action.
He stressed that the work of the committee has been brought about through hard work and that the present administration in the state has also shown that it is not afraid to take on challenges which is also a character demonstrated members of the commission.
He expressed gladness that some of the other State Independent Electoral Commissions have followed in the footsteps of LASIEC by making enquiries about the success of the delineation of wards exercise in Lagos, hoping that they would make some success from the undertaking.
While reiterating the importance of delineation of wards and creation of additional units for election purposes, Governor Fashola said it ensures that people who have moved into new communities, who have built new estates, would have an opportunity to participate in how decisions affecting their lives are taken which is in itself the guarantee of participatory democracy in the state and country.
“For those who may not know, every state, country and community is a continuing work in progress and so new towns, new communities spring up in what used to be forests, areas that used to be rural become rapidly urbanized and so it is not just enough to build roads, build schools and hospitals there. It is also important to take that civic right very seriously and that is why we have undertaken this process to see what has happened over the last few years.
“We know that many estates have sprung up in the last seven to eight years and on election days we want to be in a position to ensure that they do not have to now travel long distances going back to their old addresses and agonizing about where they should vote”, he stated.
According to the Governor, “This is the primary purpose of the delineation exercise and to ensure that where certain places have become densely populated, what was put in place to let them vote may become insufficient, overcrowded and in the event people may be disenfranchised and this is important”.
Governor Fashola also expressed the hope that the series of meetings of LASIEC with the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) would be fruitful and successful to understand and see the value added to their own undertaking that the State’s delineation exercise can bring.
He added, “Nobody would know a community better than the people who live there. I think it would be important to them to understand that this can only be helpful to their work”.
The Governor, while alluding to the reference by the LASIEC Chairman of boundary disputes that arose during the course of the exercise, stated that it was an affirmation that the exercise was empirical as stakeholders were involved and bringing about reporting of disputes.
“It means people participated. Conflict resolution is an integral part of human activity. We will go through and whatever conflicts are apparent either in dispute, movement of wards or positioning of polling units are positive signs that people are interested in how this things work. Now for us that is a strong wind in our sail to find an amicable mechanism for resolving disputes”, he explained.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, (LASIEC), Justice Fatai Adeyinka (Rtd), said when the commission organized a stakeholders’ forum in June 2010, which was widely attended, it discovered that a challenge may arise in terms of boundary disputes which necessitated the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee comprising of town planners, physical planners, the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and a host of others to advise the commission on the exercise.
He added that the commission also took some decisions as guiding principles on the exercise, one of which is that for ward delineation, what would be considered are land mass, cultural affinity and voter population.
Justice Adeyinka said there was a lull in the exercise due to the local government election and in the avalanche of election petitions adding that it resumed in early 2013 before being completed in late 2013.
He informed that the commission faced some challenges from INEC which was that when it created additional units, the voters register it had had no addresses of the registered voters adding that it wrote to INEC to supply the addresses but INEC said for some reasons it could not do that.
The chairman stated that he intends to consult with INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega so that LASIEC could submit its findings on polling units in Lagos State to INEC as it would help INEC in their own exercise if they are delineating electoral constituencies.
He added that LASIEC has also received request from more than five states of the federation to help them in the delineation of wards and creation of additional polling units adding that they have all been coming to Lagos.
The event was attended by the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr Ademorin Kuye, members of LASIEC like the Permanent Secretary, Mr Adeyinka Jeje, Mrs Felicia Oriola, Mr Deoye Ogundipe and Mr Lekan Mabinuori.