By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) Oyo State Chapter on Saturday kicked against the approval of N299 million by the Oyo State Government for the printing of ballot papers for the forthcoming local government election in the state.
SPN in a statement signed by its Oyo state Secretary, Comrade Ayodeji Adigun faulted the Oyo state government’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). According to SPN, ” 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 Engineer Seyi Makinde-led government”, adding, that the Engr 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 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 said.. The party added, ” 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 Makinde-led government, which is known for its regular complaint of paucity of fund, to have approved 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 for the State millions of naira.”
SPN stressed further, “again the chances is high the state owned printing press can be well-equipped with improved functional capacity from the said amount if allows to undertake the printing of the ballot paper and continues to be used beyond the immediate need for ballot papers. for all the State’s printing work including printing work from other state, hence serving as a means of generating revenue for the state.”
It maintained that the Engr 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 involvement in awarding the printing contract and the kind of relationship including influence it might have established with the company expected to print the ballot paper”.
” It is our belief in SPN, that the primary motive behind the award of the printing of ballot paper to a 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 pro-capitalist policy of Private Public Partnership, PPP and most importantly to secure an undemocratic victory for the PDP in the forthcoming local Government Elections” SPN stated that “it is important to state that, since 2018, the Federal Government, has officially sold 21% of its interest in NSPMC, the composition and character of the NSPMC operation has been significantly altered,” saying,. “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 for the printing of ballot papers as disclosed by the Commissioner is most likely to be with one of the private companies that is 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, adding, SPN frowns at this dubious and fraudulent PPP arrangement, calls for the immediate cancellation of the contract with the s NSPMC and demands that the Oyo State printing press should be adequately funded and equipped with a view to reposition it so that it will be able to undertake the task of handling the production of the ballot papers under the 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 the 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 freely produced 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.