The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in Oyo State has described Governor Seyi Makinde’s approval of N299m for printing of ballot papers for the forthcoming local government elections as another conduit pipe to siphon public fund.
This is contained in a statement signed by the State Secretary of the party, Com. Ayodeji Adigun and made availavable to journalists in Ibadan on Saturday.
It was stated that the approval of such an outrageous sum of N299 million for the printing of ballot paper is a misplaced priority and further exposes the anti-workers disposition of the Engr. Seyi Makinde-led government.
SPN lamented the approval of the outrageous amount, saying it is a misplaced priority and further exposes the anti-workers disposition of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government.
The statement noted that there is an obvious option of making use of the Oyo State Printing press to carry out the same printing at a drastically reduced cost and save millions of naira for the State.
The statement reads:
The Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN Oyo State Chapter condemns the approval of a huge sum of N299 million by Engr Seyi Makinde-led government for the printing of ballot papers for the forthcoming local Government election and the regime’s involvement in the decision that led to the awarding of the printing contract to an undisclosed private company with an operation franchise under the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Companies, NSPMC.
The approval of such an outrageous sum of N299 million for the printing of ballot paper is a misplaced priority and further exposes the anti-workers disposition of the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government. The Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, in less than two years of its existence has been riddled with numbers of industrial strikes and disputes, many of which are still lingering while the suspended ones are still looming specifically over many demands of workers that are yet to be satisfied by the Engr. Seyi Makinde Administration.
For over two weeks now, workers in not less than five tertiary institutions in Oyo state have embarked on indefinite strike to protest the decision of the PDP-led state government to renege on its earlier commitment to pay the striking workers their eleven(11) months minimum wage arrears. In Ladoke Akintola University of technology, LAUTCEH, Ogbomosho, workers have continued to groan under unpaid 7 months outstanding salaries and allowances. The situation is similar in the Polytechnic of Ibadan where several issues that border on non-payment of minimum wage arrears and its implementations are also still pending among other financial obligations expected of this present Makinde/PDP administration.
It is in the light of these numbers of labour related issues and other issues on financial needs of the state as it affects the working but suffering people that we of the SPN find it extremely unwise and unfortunate, the decision by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government, which is known for its regular complaint of paucity of fund, to have approved a whopping N299million for the printing of ballot papers for a local government election when there is an obvious option of making use of the State owned Printing press to carry out the same printing at a drastically reduced cost and save millions of naira for the State.
Again the chances are high that the State owned printing press can be well-equipped to an improved functional capacity even from this huge amount, undertake the printing of the ballot papers for the forthcoming Local Government Elections and still continue to be useful beyond the immediate need for the printing of ballot papers. All other State’s printing works including printing work from other States of the Federation can be done in the Oyo State Printing Press, hence serving as an additional means of generating revenue for the State. Interestingly, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, attested to this possibility in a public Statement credited to him when he disclosed that the same Oyo State printing press had been used to print ballot papers for the previous local government elections conducted in Oyo State.
Although the Commissioner has also reportedly claimed that the decision to award the contract of printing the ballot paper to NSPMC is to demonstrate that the regime is ready to be transparent in the conduct of the forth coming local government election of the 22nd of May, 2021 but as far as we are concerned in the SPN, it is highly untrue, deceitful and unthinkable that the Makinde/PDP administration that is directly involved in the printing of ballot papers for the Elections it has a vested interest in as a participant is now claiming that the basis for the awarding of the printing contract to a company that is only known to PDP, is to demonstrate transparency.
The Engr Seyi Makinde-led regime of the PDP, a political party that is also part of the contest in the said Local Government election lacks the capacity to be transparent, given its unwarranted intrusion in where and who to print the ballot papers for the Elections. By this level of its involvement in the supposedly sacred responsibility of OYSEIC to conduct free, fair and credible local government Elections for the good people of Oyo State, the PDP must have established a kind of an unsavory relationship and influence with the company expected to print the ballot papers. Therefore, it is our belief in SPN, that the primary motive behind the awarding of the printing contract to that franchisee of NSPMC by the Makinde Administration is not about any attempt to be transparent but rather to continue to take the fraudulent advantage often provided by the pro-capitalist policy of Private Public Partnership, PPP which is to enrich self and billionaire friends with public funds and most importantly to secure an undemocratic victory for the PDP in the forthcoming Local Government Elections.
It is important to state that, since 2018, the Federal Government, has officially sold 21% of its interest in NSPMC. Therefore, the composition and character of the NSPMC operations has been significantly altered. Asides the regulatory role been played now by the FG, all other activities of the NSPMC are being driven by each of the 482 private companies enjoying its franchise for profit interest. This means that the so called deal with NSPMC on the printing of ballot papers as disclosed by the Engr.Makinde’s Commissioner for information is most likely a deal with one of the 482 private companies as a franchisee of the NSPMC. Hence the arrangement is a Public Private Partnership, PPP.
With this kind of surreptitious PPP arrangement, the chance is high that the approved N299million for the printing of the so called ballot paper will end up enriching a private firm most likely owned by political acolytes of leading individuals in the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government or the PDP.
SPN frowns at this dubious and fraudulent PPP arrangement, calls for the immediate cancellation of the contract with the so called NSPMC and demands that the Oyo State printing press should be adequately funded and equipped with a view to reposition it so that it can undertake the task of handling the production of the ballot papers under the strict supervision of Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, OYSIEC.
Although, we are aware that OYSIEC as it is presently constituted, lacks the capacity to supervise the production of ballot paper without an undue interference of either the State Government or the PDP because individuals who constitute the commission are mostly members of PDP and solely appointed by the State Governor who is also a PDP member. We of SPN believe that this kind of unfortunate dependency of OYSIEC would have been prevented if the OYSIEC composition is such that is made up of elected representatives of trade unions like NLC, TUC; professional Associations like NBA, NUJ and representatives of active political parties in the State with the chairman and other principal officers of the Commission been freely chosen through a democratic Election conducted among the members of the Commission unlike the current situation that the principal officers of the Commission are appointees of the Governor.
It is so unfortunate to note that, Engr Seyi Makinde-led government and its pro-capitalist orientation like its APC predecessor is not capable of guaranteeing a democratic OYSIEC let alone an open and transparent local government election. Therefore, it is only a pro-working people government formed on the basis of a Socialist program that can guarantee a democratic OYSIEC with the capacity to midwife a free, fair and credible local government election that will produce a local government with the capacity to always ensure that public funds and resources are openly and transparently used for the benefit of the working people and the poor.
We therefore, call on workers, youths and the mass of working but suffering people across the State to join us in SPN and help build the Party towards the enthronement of such a socialist government in Oyo State and Nigeria at large.