The local government is the most important tier of government in our democracy. But Lagosians didn't bother to vote.
Lagos voted for councillors and chairmen across its 57 local governments, this weekend.
They were over a thousand candidates to fill in the job vacancies across the councils.
If you reside in Lagos and didn’t care enough about this event to tweet about it, put it up on Facebook or Instagram, then we are here for you.
If you are a registered voter and joined your friends for a football kick-about on the streets instead, then we are here for you.
If you are a registered voter and slept through the entire election, thanks to the rains that submerged most of Lagos on election day, we’ve got news for you as well.
You are a part of the problem.
You see, your vote still means a lot, even if you may not necessarily agree. By not voting for anyone as Lagos decided its chairmen and councillors, you left a void which was filled by a ghost voter and rigger.
You ceded your franchise to a lout or miscreant who will now decide your future throughout the tenure of the chairmen and councillors.
You abdicated responsibility and lost your right to complain.
If you didn’t vote, you handed over your right to complain about that clogged drainage upon which your house sits or that refuse heap that stinks to the heavens. If you didn’t vote today, you ceded your right to ask the chairman of your council to fix the road leading to your house or ask him to summon the DISCO concerning that blown transformer in your neighborhood that has ensured your flat has remained in darkness all year.
So, while you abstained from voting today, those who really don’t care about amenities and a better society, decided your future on your behalf.
How does that make you feel?
The Lagos council election of July 22, 2017, was an exercise in apathy. In my part of town, you could count the number of voters at the polling booth, on one hand. Electoral officers sat waiting for voters that never emerged, in a city of over 20 million people. Across the street, young men were auditioning for roles in the English premier league on dirt streets, flooded roads and filthy driveways.
The vote was also poorly publicized, it has to be said. Not many knew an election was in the offing until they read a government statement announcing a restriction of movement on account of the vote. No one knew who the candidates were and the said candidates campaigned to no one.
When they should have embarked on door-to-door campaigns as is the norm the world over, the election candidates instead engaged themselves in a game of who was going to paste the most posters across town.
This was an election of campaign posters and more campaign posters. Candidates made promises to no one.
But in the end, it was still a significant vote.
Because, if we intend to restructure our failing federation like we’ve been parroting for a while now, we’ve got to pay more attention to the local government tier than we are currently doing.
The local government has become an appendage of greedy state governors. But it should never be that way. The local government should be autonomous and it should address the basic concerns and needs of the grassroot.
We should all know our chairmen and councillors by rote. We should all know their office addresses. But I can bet my bald pate that more than half of Lagos have no idea where their local government offices sit.
Here's the thing: all politics is still local.
A friend told me this morning that her local government chairman in the Iyana-Ipaja area bought for himself a fine house in highbrow Ikoyi with allocations that should have been used to develop Iyana-Ipaja.
Stories like the one above are commonplace.
Because no one monitors what they do and because they are largely anonymous, local government chairmen and councillors have become accountable to no one. We’ve handed them a free pass. They’ve become the most irresponsible politicians around.
The good news is that we can change all of that by ensuring that we subject them to greater scrutiny and task them to provide good governance henceforth.
We can become better citizens by voting during local government elections in our states and counties henceforth.
Because, seriously, how difficult is that?