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Commentary: Osun Guber Poll: It’ll Be Safer To Let Peace Prevail

Governor Aregbesola of Osun state (L) and Sen. Iyiola Omisore

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, Nigeria Bureau, Lagos

‘How time flies’ the saying goes. The four years constitutionally recognized tenure of the current democratic dispensation of Osun State, South Western Nigeria gradually winds up. This has automatically kick started yet another frenzy and multi – dimensional political activities. So far, the politicking by the gladiators, power brokers, party stalwarts other machinery and apparatus have been pre – occupied with the witty strategies to remain on top of the game – ultimately to woo the electorates and get their supports.

Governor Aregbesola of Osun state (L) and Sen. Iyiola Omisore

Governor Aregbesola of Osun state (L) and Sen. Iyiola Omisore

Welcome the August 9, 2014 Osun State governorship election. The truth about this almighty gubernatorial election is that it is being keenly contested by two political parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC). Without intent to undermine other political parties, PDP and APC have been unarguably more engaged and visible in their electioneering campaigns which ended Thursday.

In the last few months, the top contenders have scripted various catching phrases, slogans and persuasive measures to appeal to the state’s prospective voters.

Nigeria has joined the rest of the world in exploring the swift and lasting benefits of social media handles. The coming decisive poll has not lagged behind in this exciting trend. So far, interesting, flamboyant and crowded video footage, intimidating pictures and politically and motivated messages have been scripted and posted on diverse social social media platforms. Recently, a member in the party of one of the two top contenders punctured a statement credited to him that its candidate could not win the Saturday poll. Apart from denying the rumour via a press statement, the party’s Chieftain alleged that the speculation was the handiwork of the opposition.

Another interesting aspect of the just concluded political rallies and crusades were public debates and opinion polls. Few weeks back, a public debate was organized for about three political parties, namely, the PDP, APC and Labour Party (LP). Both Senator Iyiola Omisore and Fatai Akinbade of PDP and LP respectively did not show up save the incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola. Well, the decision to partake in the debate – ‘Manifesto Day’ is optional, yet, it is not strategic enough for both parties to have called the bluff of such public talk as it has become common feature of electoral process and politicking world over as it offers golden opportunity to the party’s candidates to market and endear themselves to the public.

Yet, there were surveys, one purportedly conducted by a Lagos based marketing research solutions firm – TNS – RMS and the other by the United States for International Development (USAID). The former poll placed incumbent Aregbesola ahead of others, awarding 73 per cent popularity over his rival, Omisore with 13 per cent in similar regards. However, USAID survey indicated 58 per cent in favour of PDP candidate, with APC’s coming behind with 42 per cent. While PDP criticized the credibility TNS’s poll outcome as it alleged TNS CEO was an ally of the Governor, USAID through its Acting Public Affairs Officer, and Information Specialist, US Consulate Lagos, Rhonda Watson and Mrs Joke Omotunde respectively denied ever conducting such survey.

The Independent National Electoral Commission on its part has put some measures in place as well as taken certain initiatives ordinarily to make the exercise a lot easier. Beside its mobilization for collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), the body has gone further to create additional 3,379 voting points in the state. The step according to the State’s INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Olusegun Agbaje was to decongest some polling centres with up to 1,500 voters, such that each does not have more than 500 electorates. This is a good one, given the possible difficulty that may play out in the process of carrying out pre- and post- voting activities by both the officials and eligible voters.

In addition, the electoral umpire has informed that it has engaged a total of 10,432 ad hoc staff –  members of National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) from five other states apart from Osun to be on hand for tomorrow exercise. The above figure is aside the state’s INEC staff. Similarly, the state’s REC who had insisted that he did not align nor partial to a particular party or candidate informed the public that, there exist a total of 1,407,222 registered voters, in the 30 Local Council Areas (LGAs) of Osun state out of which 960,124 had collected their PVCs, leaving 450,560 voters who were yet to collect the voting license as at (Friday, August 1, 2014). INEC has also revealed that out of the total registered voters’ figure, 745,828 representing 53 per cent were females while 661,394 about 47 per cent of the voters were males.

The clusters zone initiative has also been taken. This has proven to be effective especially with respect to handling and logistics of transportation and distribution of sensitive electoral materials in all wards and polling units.

Still, rash of accusations, counter accusations, allegations, alerts and alarms have trail the campaigns and preparation to Saturday poll even till the moment. Some of these complaints in actual sense are unpleasant and quite disturbing. So far, the Nigerians and the world have read about, watched, reported, shared news about militarization, intimidation, harassment of party stalwarts and supporters as well as series of alleged plan to rig.

Similarly, there was a reported case of shooting and killing of two political party members about three weeks ago in Ilesha during a free for all between members of the two major contending parties. Journalists have lately been joined in the list of the victims in the ensuing high handedness. On Thursday, Mr Ayodeji Moradeyo a journalist with a Lagos based private owned television station was rough handled alongside his cameraman. Camera was smashed, they were beaten to a stupor, clothes torn and unconfirmed reports have it that their whereabouts is unknown! This took place at a rally of one of the leading political parties in the race. The alarm has also been raised of plot to pick leaders of certain political party leaders in the state. All these are uncalled for and signal to danger as well as prelude to a crisis-ridden voting exercise.

Regarding rigging, the following facts must be asserted. Both the PDP and APC have significant roles to play to making the coming exercise peaceful, credible, violence free by obviously ensuring their members conduct themselves. Indeed, the parties are very much relevant in the peaceful Osun and her prosperity. Consequently, should APC attempt to rig, it should realize that the full wrath of Federal power will be visited on it and its members. Similarly, if any move is made by the PDP to frustrate the wish of people to be freely expressed, that will be very suicidal. In other words, rigging in this election should be ‘unthinkable’ for any lover of Osun, her people and the country in general.

Therefore, at this eleventh hour, President Goodluck Jonathan should explore the benefits of the limited time available to help the good and common course of this country. It is true Mr. President has said and promised repeatedly that tomorrow’s poll will be the envy of everyone. The Security agencies, in particular, the Police have also pledged to maintain law and order as well as impartial to all parties. President Jonathan must make his words to be his bond. If he achieves this feat, other stakeholders including the oppositions will naturally replicate the same.

Once again, as father of the nation, Osun, irrespective of the party affiliation, Mr. President should realize and face with the reality that the state is also part of his constituency. Already, the country presently battles with insecurity challenges, with Boko Haram militants ravaging and killing with impunity. Among the signposts of the present insurgency is the abduction of over 200 Chibok Secondary School girls in Borno State. No doubt, the country and her people are already troubled and terrorized, hence, needless of more of similar and damaging bites.

Therefore, can the President afford this yet another ‘peaceful house’ is put in disorder and set ablaze? Succinctly put, it is safer and will be cost less if the Osun August 9 governorship poll is made peaceful and free of further bloodletting. This country has had enough of that in the last five years and it does not need more of such sorrowful experience. This is the big, heavy, task and challenge before Jonathan before Osun people decide on Saturday and while the exercise lasts.

Stop The Conspiracy

The 16 count charge of misconduct by about 20 state legislators against Nasarawa Governor, Umaru Tanko Al’Makura has raised much dust and is yet to settle. The Charges have prompted dramatic impeachment notice and proceedings. Ahead of  its inaugural sitting last week Monday the seven – man investigative panel, constituted by the State Chief Judge, Suleimon Dikko and headed by Yusuf Shehu Usman, the anti – Al’Makura lawmakers, have voiced out vote of no confidence against the panel members as they alleged they  were members of the same political party with the governor. They have therefore vowed not to show up at the panel. But shockingly, they made a reverse on Monday as a team of six counsels led by Mr. Ocha Ulegede , representing them appeared before the panel.

In the end, the panel threw out all the allegations against the embattled Governor for lack of substantial evidences. The lawmakers have again announced their resolve to pursue the impeachment. The bitter truth is that the legislators should realize that they are losing the battle. By now, they should face the reality and be cautioned just like in a Yoruba figurative warning expression ‘E jogun omi’ – Stop the War. Therefore, the Musa Ahmed Mohammed-led state House of Assembly should please stop the conspiracy and let Al’Makura be.

…And Deadly Ebola Rages; Kudos To NMA

Possibly alternative appellations for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) are worry and death. After, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian who died in Lagos over two weeks ago due to its infection, a nurse who had contact with him was confirmed dead on Wednesday by the Nigerian Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu in Abuja, the country capital. Ahead of the death a female Doctor in the state who first attended to late Sawyer was announced by the Minister to be critically ill of EVD infection. Not less than eight people are presently being quarantined in the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, Lagos state. Also in the week, a Saudi Arabian who was suspected to be infected with the virus on Tuesday breathed his last on Wednesday. It was confirmed by the country’s health Ministry that the man died of EVD, possibly infected during a business trip to Sierra Leone, another Ebola hit country.

The Liberian President, Mrs. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced Thursday a state of emergency in some counties seriously affected by EVD in the country. Despite all odds, Nigerians should appreciate and commend leadership and members of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to have deemed it fit to suspend their one month nationwide strike, specifically out of passion and collective resolve, their President, Dr. Kayode Obembe announced on Thursday that the decision was to help government at the various levels in the country, in efforts and measures to stop further spread of the deadly Ebola. Dear Doctors, thank you so much!




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