Ahead of next year Local Government and the Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) elections in Ondo State, major opposition political parties have indicated their interest and are fully prepared for the election.
The political parties, according to The Hope investigation have concluded all arrangements that will make their candidates defeat the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC, candidates in the local government polls.
They had concluded their party primaries for all the 18 local governments and 33 LCDAs.
The parties while expressing their confidence in the Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) to conduct credible elections called on security agencies to make adequate provision for the protection of lives and property before, during and after the elections.
The parties that declared their readiness in a separate interview with The Hope are: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) among others.
The Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) Chairman, Dr. Joseph Aremo had earlier announced February 17, 2024 as the election date for the local government and LCDAs.
Recalled that Aremo had declared that the elections would hold as scheduled.
He had assured cooperation of all the stakeholders including security operatives to conduct peaceful elections in the 18 councils and the 33 LCDAs across the state.
It would be recalled that on September 8, 2023, the State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu signed the bill creating the 33 LCDAs into law.
The newly created LCDAs are to co-exist with the 18 LGAs in the state, bringing the total number of local councils to 51.
According to the chairman, only the election into the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman for the LCDAs will be conducted.
The PDP in the state declared that it is battle ready for the elections as councilors, vice chairmen and chairmen have been nominated for more than 95 percent LCDAs and LGAs under its platform to contest in the polls.
The State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kennedy Peretei explained that there are isolated cases where candidates were not fielded on the grounds of late nomination.
He, however, pointed out that the party was satisfied with the ones nominated having fulfilled all requirements for the election.
“We are already battle ready for the LG elections scheduled for February next year. We have nominated councilors, vice-chairmen and chairmen for more than 95 percent of the LCDAs and LGAs,” he said.
The State Chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Stephen Adewale said the readiness to participate in the elections was due to the confidence it has in the commission and the antecedents of the ODIEC Chairman, Aremo to conduct the credible council polls which he described as closest elections to make meaningful impacts on the grassroots.
Adewale noted that it took the party leaders time to convince members who already had opinion not to take part in the elections before they could have change of minds to participate in the elections.
He said the party has concluded its primaries elections to field candidates for the local government elections across the 18 councils and looking forward to it.
He said economic activities in the country will determine the campaign strategies the party will employ for the election, noting that serious consultations are ongoing.
He urged the commission to ensure that accurate information is disseminated to all parties on the elections to enhance confidence they have in the ODIEC, just as he said the state government should give it free hand to conduct the elections on the level playing field.
Chairman of Zenith Labour Party, ZLP, Mr. Lawrence Oyebamiji said the party will participate in the elections with the 18 candidates fielded for the position of chairmanship without candidates fielded for councilorship seat.
However, the State Chairman of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Mr. Peter Olagookun, disclosed that the party would not participate in the elections because of lack of confidence in the commission.
He criticized the ODIEC for selling nomination forms to candidates which Is supposed to be free.
“Why is ODIEC selling nomination form for the local government elections,” he asked.