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ANALYSIS: Edo Guber Poll; Oshiomhole And Postponement

Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Given the political situation and calculation on the most likely fate to befall the ruling party then – the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the leading opposition (now in power) the All Progressives Congress (APC), not a few Nigerians; pundits and the political watchers realized (for real) that the announcement (postponement) made Saturday, February 7, 2015 of the Presidential election (till Saturday March 28, 2015) by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) was not ‘real’, rather, instigated by the incumbent power then.

The delay game started when the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan invited his security chiefs to a Council of State meeting and the joker was later thrown at the public through the security heads – who announced the danger in going ahead with the poll as formerly scheduled (Saturday, February 14, 2015) due to insecurity in the North Eastern part of the country. In all ramifications, it was very easy then, for anyone to use Boko Haram insurgency as an excuse to scuttle an exercise which he was not willing to allow, in the first place. Reason is very simple. Then, the Boko Haram insurgents were very formidable; dreaded and daring. They had a field day, especially when it seemed that the government was incapacitated and the best it knew how to do whenever the terrorists struck was the mere media condemnation with the usual expressions such as – “the act was dastardly…‘’; ‘’government would bring the culprits to justice” among other parables.

Then, it was clear that both the Military and the immediate former President were interested in something else, but certainly, not how to quench the bloody offensives of Boko Haram insurgents. Therefore, it was convenient for him to have cornered the heads of security agencies and instigated them to use insecurity in a part of the country to postpone the election in about 770 local government areas, out of total 774 across the country.
More than a week ago, history repeated itself in Edo State, South South Nigeria. The drama this time, started Wednesday, September 7, 2016 when the Police authority and Department of State Security (DSS) cited security challenges in the State and within the South South and South East regions, as an impediment for the conduct of the State Governorship election, which was originally slated for Saturday, September 10, 2016.

Just exactly as it happened in 2015 when former President Jonathan was still in power, the INEC despite the security threat alert by the security chiefs, insisted it was ready to conduct the poll in the 18 Local Councils of the State. But despite this, the electoral body seemed found it extremely tight to survive the pressure being mounted on it, therefore, had no other option than to cooperate and comply with the security caution. In the end, the Commission added another two and half weeks and announced Wednesday, September 28, 2016 as the new date for the ‘parallel’ State Governorship election.
Also, as it happened last year, the security threat (alarm) orchestrated by the Police and DSS was influenced by the “powerful ones” so as to achieve personal goal(s).

Interestingly, it was very clear that the opposition PDP considered the ‘arranged’ postponement as a strong factor for it to take on its rival political party – the APC and more significantly, to attack its first foe – the incumbent State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The Governor was accused of masterminding the shift; was alleged to be coward and terrified by imminent defeat. Expectedly, the Governor in his reply hit back and said the postponement was a delay disgrace for his opposition.

The salvo and counter were quite usual and political. So, I care less about them. But on a serious note, who actually instigated Edo Gubernatorial poll? Were the security agencies again being used by the ruling class? If truly the militants were threatening showdown in the Niger Delta region, to what extent is the effect in Edo State and what is the link to the poll? What has been the level of Niger Delta militants’ activities in Edo State since the renewed onslaught began? Did Governor Oshiomhole truly mastermind the postponement? If yes, what could have been his (genuine) if any, reason (s) aside the so called security threat? Is it true that the Comrade Governor was worried about loss and was plotting to avert the humiliation? In real sense, can the PDP win a free, fair and credible Governorship election in Edo as at today?

At another forum, Governor Oshiomhole has alleged that some opposition members recently stormed the State with the sum of N2 billion to manipulate the poll. In contrast, Oshiomhole has been accused of being frightened and intimidated, having lost the support of his ‘people’.

If the security alert was a ruse and fabrication (most likely to be), could it be inferred that Governor Oshiomhole influenced the postponement for lacking equal financial muscle with the alleged PDP Chieftains; thus used the shift to weakening  the effect of financial inducement on the electorates, then still, work on the alternative measures to sustain his supporters?

If the opposition’s alleged cash enticement of the voters is Governor Oshiomhole’s headache, then, I feel it is very unfortunate and I really pity him. I said this because it is an obvious fact that the Comrade Governor has been to a large extent focus and effectively able to deliver on his electoral promises. Therefore, one expects that he (Oshiomhole) and his party would have ordinarily been coasted to victory on account of “Goodwill”. Regrettably, Nigerian politics is beyond generosity; rather, more about how much of money you can throw around; the amount of bags of rice you could share among the downtrodden; the number of fowl you could share during Christmas and New Year, as well as the number of ram that can be distributed during Sallah.

And to put it succinctly, one of those who were alleged to be the “money bag” in the opposition, for the Edo Gubernatorial poll is the ever “wailing” Governor, the “Stomach Infrastructure” politics apostle. I really; really pity Governor Oshiomhole for the set of terrible characters within and outside his State (in the opposition) – whom he is competing with to win the power again in the “Heartbeat of Nigeria” State. But despite my sympathy for him, I oppose his alleged instigation of the shift of the poll, for whatever reason (s), if indeed he was the masquerade behind the mask.

I repeat that the security scare used to shift the poll is known only to, and embraced by the security agencies who echoed it, as well as those who influenced it. Really, it was an unpleasant development and a colossus loss to many stakeholders, including the security. For instance, the resources committed by independent election observation and monitoring bodies; the media organizations; INEC and others to move in human and material resources into various parts of the State were waste! With the exception of Police and DSS, there was virtually no other body in Edo (as at the time of the announcement) which confirmed any threat to life and properties that could have warranted the postponement. So, what are we talking about? If I may ask, didn’t general elections hold in Nigeria last year, including the North Eastern States which were then still under bloody attack by Boko Haram insurgents?
Surely, two wrongs can never be right. The Security agencies and their backers in Edo instance failed to reflect seriously on the last year’s postponement of Presidential election. Despite the over four weeks shift, former President Jonathan and his party, lost. This happened just because the ex-President failed in his responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces. As it was widely accepted then, the immediate past President was only in power, but not just in charge of the governance. So, the postponement might have achieved a little, regarding getting handful of additional support – as PDP was able to woe few voters through inducement, yet, could not escape the outright defeat.

It is the similar theory here – in Edo Governorship election. I mean If Governor Oshiomhole is confident that he has truly served his people and the State (I do believe he had), why the alleged anxiety and the worry about the cash influence. I earlier mentioned service to the people and Goodwill. These I believe the Comrade Governor has achieved over the time, so, they are expected to work for him significantly.
In effect, the Governor ought to have realized that it could have been possible for his main opponent to have swayed some ‘neither here nor there’ voters, yet, that could not have upstaged the overall outcome of the poll, provided it is credible.

Governor Oshiomhole and his team should have continued with their reach out and kept their eyes on the ball as well as be comforted with the fact that the immediate past President in the similar attempt (using security challenge to change election date) was only able to muster little additional votes, still, he and his party failed in the end. The facts is that the electorates, despite the high of poverty level in the land and crave to benefit from the commonwealth, know what is good for them and what is expected from a focused leader and government. Therefore, they have a definite direction, (have determined) before now, with regards to who and which party they will vote, irrespective of money sharing and other tactics being deployed by anyone.
In other words, repeating the past slip is needless and casts a big question mark on the so-called popularity of Governor Oshiomhole in Edo State.
Still, more disturbing is the involvement and meddlesome by the security agencies in various aspects of our democratic process. It is worrisome the same apparatus had for long and remained like pawns in the hands of our politicians, especially to unleash various degrees of abnormality and pranks. In history, the former Military President Ibrahim Babangida attempted to use the same security report to scuttle the 1993 Presidential Election but failed. However, the former self-style Military Leader eventually succeeded in using the same gimmick (security situation) to halt further announcement of the election result as well as official declaration of the winner. The big error on the part of Gen. Babangida has therefore become a bad recurring reference point in the Nigerian political and democratic history.
It is very painful that our security agencies have not improved significantly when it comes to their relationship with the political office holders and the incumbent ‘powers’. With the Edo experience, it signifies that professionalism which has eluded most of our security apparatus is still lacking and missing. It is regrettable that some of the errors they committed with the last ruling party and which attracted wide condemnation from the public are still with us.

This is one of the wrong democratic traditions which perhaps are peculiar to Nigeria. Therefore, every stakeholder must stand up and speak against the trend of using security agencies to raise false security alarm, thereby creating needless tension and subsequently causing avoidable setback to social and business lives.

If we failed in this regard, just as former President Jonathan resorted to using the same plot last year and as we battle with the similar challenge presently in Edo’s case, one can easily conclude that when another ruling party assumes power at another time, the same trick will be deployed. But who suffers? Business and people, of course. We must stop the old bad ways in different versions!

Specifically, I distance myself from the PDP chieftains’ rants on this matter. Their immediate past leader was guilty of the same conspiracy; therefore, they lack moral right to call anybody names. Again, as I established earlier, two wrongs can never be right. The ruling APC and its leaders must be wary of not ending up in committing similar errors by the opposition PDP while in power, all of which that has landed the country in the present mess and sorry state we are today. A prominent traditional ruler in the North recently gave similar warning. Other concerned Nigerians have done the same; many definitely will still follow. The Yoruba say: ‘’Igboran san ju ebo riru’’ – ‘’to be fore warned is to be fore armed!’’

E-Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Twitter: @tjaysuccess10

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