The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State has decided to boycott the local government elections slated for April 18.
The PDP’s withdrawal, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, is predicated on the fear that its candidates were unlikely to get a level playing field from the state Independent Electoral Commission (ODIEC) under the APC-led state government.
Although the party was yet to formally announce its withdrawal, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that it stemmed from a consultative meeting held among its leaders and aspirants recently on the state of the preparations for the election.
The withdrawal is reminiscent of the developments in the April 2016 local government elections when the All Progressives Congress, then in the opposition, withdrew from the elections claiming the process was compromised by the Olusegun Mimiko-led PDP government.
The election at the time was conducted 10 months to end of the tenure of the Mimiko administration.
The APC while stating the reasons for its boycott of the local government election in 2016, accused the chairman and other members of the Ondo State Independent Electoral Commission of being card-carrying members of the PDP.
It also said there was no authentic voters register for the election, arguing that the register available for use had not been reviewed since the last general election as required by the law.
The party also said Mr Mimiko and the PDP government could not be trusted to do anything right.
“Many times, the governor has deceived the people and this election cannot be different. Dr Olusegun Mimiko is highly deficient in character, integrity and fairness that he cannot be trusted to midwife any free and fair electoral process,” APC had alleged.
“To participate is to help massage Mimiko’s ego, support illegality and to allow ourselves to be distracted from our singular mission of wresting power from the PDP in a few months’ time.”
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) also did not participate in the 2016 election, saying the election was already compromised.
The April 2020 local government election to be conducted by the APC-led government is also holding 10 months to the expiration of the Rotimi Akerdolu-led government.
The Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Ondo State, Zadok Akintoye, told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday in Akure that a formal statement would be issued on Monday on the position of the party regarding the election.
“But I can confirm to you that we are not participating in the local government elections,” he said.
He said ODIEC had not complied fully with the electoral law and such would affect the participation and chances of the opposition PDP in the election.
One of the reasons Mr Akintoye put forward was that the time frame in which the commission gave to the parties to prepare fell far short of what was provided in the law.
“For instance, the number of days given to the parties to hold congresses and have their candidates is not within the ambits of the law. It does not comply with the provisions of the law,” he said.
“When they asked us to start preparing for this election, we were not given ample time.”
He noted that further reasons would be given in the press statement which would be released on Monday.
The Zenith Labour Party has also expressed fears that it would not participate in the April polls.
The spokesperson of the party, Olatunde Felix, said the party was still unsure of its participation, adding that the past experiences of rigging and closing the space against the opposing parties was of serious concern to the ZLP.
“We want to look before we leap,” said Mr Felix. “We want to make sure we are. It jumping into troubled waters.”
He said the party leaders were still in consultation as to whether they would be involved in the April elections.
“You know what is happening in our elections, it is a winner takes all mentality,” he said. “We don’t want to waste our time and our resources running in an election that will end up in a sham. We want to be sure there is a level playing field.”
The APC has been having issues conducting its congresses to select its candidates for the polls. The primaries have been fraught with contentions so far.