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Edo Guber, 2015 Presidential Poll And Brexit Vote

Streetnomics; Edo Polls; rice selling
Posted: Oct 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Kingsley Ighomwenghi.

The election to replace Adams Aliu Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State, Nigeria has come and gone and in what observers noted was a fair poll, with few skirmishes that nevertheless were avoidable.

The election produced Godwin Obaseki of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, who outpaced his main contender- Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

According to the final results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the APC polled 319,483 votes, better than the PDP’s 253,173.

That means Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu collectively garnered 572,656 votes 92.06 per cent of the 622,039 accredited voters; and 98.38 per cent of the 582,299 valid votes, when you remove the 30,945 that was rejected.

One question stakeholders must ponder upon today, as a guide to future elections in the country is: How come total number of accredited voters, which represents those who actually showed up to vote at the various polling booths represents just a third of total registered in the state?

For the sake of clarity, according to official records, registered voters were 1,900,223; those accredited were only 622,039 or 32.73 per cent.

I accept that there were those who refused to turn up for whatever they termed genuine reasons (at least an aunt who probably registered to vote in Auchi, headquarters of Etsako West Local Government, was too busy taking care of her daughter who recently put to bed, while savouring the euphoria of becoming a grandma).

There could be those, who travelled for further studies, some could have been in the hospital or at home down with illness or could not journey to their polling units because it was a working day. Such people live outside Edo State and could not have enjoyed to the two-day public holiday to participate in the process. Let us not forget those who died between September 10 and 28, when the election was postponed.

But then, all of these are not enough reasons why less than 35 per cent of registered voters showed up at the polls.

One must therefore also ask: Did ghosts register in the state? After all, the millions of ghost workers on federal and state payrolls collect billions of Naira monthly.

But registration carried out by INEC in the months leading to the 2015 general elections was supposed to be thorough with biometric data captured.

I read in the days ahead of the election, Governor Oshiomhole telling a foreign delegation that one voter’s card for the governorship Edo election bore the picture of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab popularly known to as the “Underwear Bomber.” Remember him?

This is evidence of the fact that Nigeria’s voters register is excessively padded.

The Edo governorship election was even better than the 2015 Presidential election. How? There were 67.422 million registered voters, only 31.746 came for accreditation on election day, with Muhammadu Buhari of the APC emerging victor after garnering 15.424 million, compared with 12.853 million votes pooled by then President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.

Let us go back to the Edo governorship election and crunch the numbers further.

In Owan West LGA, with 54,406 registered voters, only 24,487 were accredited, representing a 45 per cent turnout. If that was poor, in Egor LGA which had 184,296 voters registered, only 49,802 or 27 per cent came for accreditation; just like in Oredo with 74,076accredited voters representing 27.07 per cent of the 273,614who registered.

But just in case you think that was the worst of the lot, in Ikpoba Okha, where there were 260,965 registered voters, only 65,348 or 25.27 per cent showed up at the booths; while Etsako East had the best percentage turnout of voters: 33,032 accredited, representing 49.82 per cent of the 66,277 registered. Owan West followed.

Thirty per cent of 5,211 participants in an on-line opinion poll by Channels Television, involving  who were asked to rate the conduct of the Edo State governorship election, believe it was excellent, just as another 30 per cent say it was fair; while 26 per cent said it was poorly conducted and the remaining 14 per cent are indifferent.

Going by the percentage of those who voted at the September 28, 2016 Edo governorship poll, it was another case of the minority deciding the fate of the majority, otherwise, how come only 32.73 percent voted?

In any case, the constitution requires a simple majority of votes, but like the 2015 presidential poll there is no data to determine the demographics of participants, except to say that it enjoys a huge youth population.

There is a similarity as noted in my piece of the June 30, 2016 edition titled: “Brexit Lessons For Nigeria’s Electorate,” which followed the historic decision of Britons to exit the European Union. While 17.41 million people or 51.9% voted for Britain to leave Europe, 16.14 million or 48.1% wanted to remain, a difference of 1,269,501. But 64 per cent of 3,806,471 young people (aged between 20 and 24 years) ignored their power, abstaining from the exercise, as only 492,306 or 36 per cent of youths in the age bracket registered and voted.

I will not succumb to the temptation of thinking that over 800,000 ghosts were added to the voters’ register. But is it that many residents of Edo State shunned the important civic duty and therefore have no moral right to complain about its outcome? This is one issue that we may have to keep on the front burner ahead of the Ondo guber election that is weeks away and of course the 2019 general poll. The National Assembly and other stakeholders may also have to look into this as part of further improving on our democracy

While I congratulate Obaseki for the victory, I expect that he has started shopping for those to constitute a compact team that would actualize his vision of making Edo better than his predecessor is leaving it.

By Kingsley Ighomwenghi.