Edo Governorship Poll Postponement: Morning After | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Edo Governorship Poll Postponement: Morning After

James Onanefe Ibori
Posted: Sep 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The reluctance of top officials of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Edo Governorship poll couldn’t have been faked. Their body language depicted despondency and helplessness. And it couldn’t have been otherwise. The electoral umpire had hoped to use the Edo governorship poll to showcase its determination to start on a clean slate after the botched elections that took place under its watch in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, among others. Besides, since the new chairman came on board, elections in various parts of the nation have tended to be “inconclusive.”

But after committing billions of naira in human capital, equipment and logistics, INEC was forced very much against its will to postpone the election by two weeks, ostensibly due to fears about security of life and property. Quite expectedly, the battle line was immediately drawn between those who believe that the presidency and the ruling party at the centre and in Edo State, the All Progressives Congress (APC), were the master puppeteers directing the show, and those who contend that the benefit of doubt must be given to the security agencies who had advised that it wasn’t prudent to conduct the poll on the scheduled date.

At times like this, the sheer hypocrisy and insincerity of most Nigerian politicians, so-called political pundits and public affairs analysts make one want to puke. It is not as if elections have not been postponed in the past due to the inability of the security agencies to guarantee an acceptable level of security. In fact, there are many constituencies in Rivers State where national and state elections are yet to be conducted since February/March 2015 because of the lingering atmosphere of insecurity.

What irks me most is that the same groups and individuals who hailed then President Goodluck Jonathan for putting ‘national interest above partisan and personal interests’ when he shifted the 2015 Presidential Election by six weeks because, then, National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, had magisterially declared that the environment wasn’t conducive for the poll to hold are the same ones warning President Muhammadu Buhari to call the security agencies to order. The same thing happened with the card readers.

While a good number of Nigerians and the then major opposition party, APC, were insisting that card readers must be deployed in order to curb sharp electoral malpractices, officials of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the power of incumbency behind them, tried everything possible to stop INEC in its tracks. In fact, the likes of Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states respectively, remain governors today largely because the Supreme Court judgement that card readers are unknown to the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act!

The same PDP shouting the loudest that card readers must be used in the Edo Governorship Election! And not even reports of daily arrests of armed hoodlums who infiltrated into different parts of Edo State by a crack team of detectives from the Abuja Police Headquarters as well as rampant incidences of politically-linked assassinations and kidnappings in nearby Rivers State have caused the conspiracy theorists to disabuse their minds that it is all a ruse to enable the ruling party snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

During the 2012 Edo Governorship Election, I deliberately refused to comment on the chances of the candidates in the race. As far as I was concerned, any right-thinking person who experienced the eight-year misrule of the PDP and compared that better forgotten to the performance of Adams Oshiomhole only had one real choice. My take was that the people of Edo State were wise enough to know what’s in their best interest.

When Jonathan shifted the presidential poll, the PDP and its sympathisers reasoned that it was a game-changing master stroke. No less a person than Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose gushed that Buhari would lose the election because the postponement has effectively robbed him of the ‘Febuhari’ phenomenon – an interplay of the month in which the poll was originally scheduled and the Buhari Tsunami.

The shift to September 24 cannot likewise guarantee victory to the candidate of the party in power. If Edo voters think that Oshiomhole has built worthy developmental legacies then they should vote for the man who led his economic team: Godwin Obaseki. But if they think otherwise, they should vote for the PDP candidate, Osaze Ize-Iyamu of the PDP who has promised to change the changer. Period!

By Tiko Okoye