Other anomalies [election observers] noted include “vote buying tagged ‘see and buy’ in local parlance, where voters surreptitiously showed which party they voted for to party agents who would then settle them.”
The Ekiti gubernatorial poll has been lost and won. The winners and losers are giving their versions of the electoral narrative the way they deem fit. It is good to listen to both versions of the electoral tale. While the winners, the All Progressives Congress (APC), are in celebratory mood and pontificating on Osun guber poll and the 2019 general election, the losers, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are crying blue murder over what they described as day light electoral robbery.
The PDP candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, has vowed to challenge the outcome at the tribunal. Without any prejudice to all the participants in the Ekiti poll, the brazen vote buying that characterised the election is a big minus for our democracy and the electoral process. Therefore, the July 14 poll cannot be a template for the 2019 election.
According to a coalition of local and foreign election observers, “the exercise fell below global standard.” They also “faulted the deployment of 30,000 security agents,” and stressed that “the conduct of some of the security operatives largely marred the electoral process.” Other anomalies they noted include “vote buying tagged ‘see and buy’ in local parlance, where voters surreptitiously showed which party they voted for to party agents who would then settle them.”
There were also ballot box snatching, sporadic shootings, sending away of some party agents and intimidation of voters. The observers’ conclusion on Ekiti poll is very significant and merited quoting in full: “The July 14 poll cannot be recommended as a template for the forthcoming 2019 general election as it falls short of global standards and spells doom for the nation if the lapses noted are not addressed and a reorientation, across board, is put in place.”
Beyond what the observers said, let me add that vote buying is another form of election rigging. It is as bad as falsification of election results, which occurs mostly at collation centre. The reported snatching of ballot boxes and malfunctioning of the card reader are indices
that all cannot be well with the conduct of Ekiti poll. If votes can be bought, the card reader has lost its essence. If votes can be bought with heavy security presence in Ekiti, there is no point laying security siege on the state simply because a guber election is taking place. The interest should not be about who wins or loses the Ekiti poll, but on the sanctity of the electoral process.
Is Ekiti poll free, fair and transparent? Our concern is to insist that the right thing must be done. The last may not have been heard about the Ekiti guber poll. More revelations will come in the days ahead and when the tribunal starts sitting. If we cannot conduct a guber poll according to democratic rules, there is serious danger ahead.
If the votes of the people cannot count, the country is in a big trouble. Ekiti poll has further confirmed the ‘do or die’ nature of our politics. The desperation for power, on the part of the politicians and their supporters, is still ever present. The selfish motivation for seeking power is still in vogue in our politics.
If we move like this to Osun poll and the 2019 big show, the road will surely be bumpy with unpalatable consequences. We need more assurance from the umpire and other stakeholders that the wishes of the people must count in all elections. It is good that the PDP candidate has chosen to seek redress in the tribunal. The election is not yet over until all matters arising from it are resolved.
Africa and World Cup
Russia 2018 World Cup will go down in history as one of the best in the annals of the global soccer tournament. It was indeed one of the best organized world football fiestas. It was colourful, eventful and full of drama and excitements. It had its low and high moments. It was full of surprises, disappointments and hopes. It was also highly entertaining.
The opening and closing ceremonies showed the best Russians could offer the world. The closing ceremony was particularly spectacular with the vivacious presence of President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia. The way the duo hugged the players was illuminating and soul-stirring.
Theirs demonstrated oneness of human- ity and the unifying essence of football. Both France and Croatia deserved their victories. They fought hard for them. Most European teams did well in the tournament. Even some Asian countries did their best. We cannot exactly say the same of African teams. All of them crashed out at the group stage. They went, saw but refused to conquer.
African teams’ participation in the Mundial was not encouraging. It was so bad. All the five teams that represented the continent did not make it to the round of 16. Africa’s poor performance at the event was below par and must be
seriously interrogated. Why did African teams not go far in Russia 2018?
Apart from poor officiating of games involving some African teams, their overall performance was nothing to write home about. Nigeria and Senegal would have reached the round of 16 but inexperience and bad officiating robbed them of the chance. There is every need to ensure good officiating in the World Cup events.
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was avoidable distraction in Russia 2018. Its future use in FIFA tournaments ought to be reviewed. FIFA should improve the officiating of such global football event. Protests by players in the pitch against bad officiating were indices that FIFA should seriously work on that department of the event to make it better.
The war-like nature of some of the games, with dangerous tackles and shoving, distracted enormously from its capacity to engender friendship. For Africa to make lasting impact in Qatar 2022, the preparation must start from now. An African team can win the World Cup in future. It is a possibility. France that won the 2018 version had some players of African descent.
What African teams need is an assemblage of young and talented players. They abound on the continent waiting to be tapped. We need committed and motivated players as well. We also need world class coaching crew to handle them.
We should stop going to the World Cup as spectators. We must start going there with the hope and aspiration of winning the cup.
There are useful lessons African teams can learn from past winners of the cup. The Nigerian team did not impress most of their fans. Their loss to Argentina was very sad. We need more players from the grassroots in the team. The team should be made to blend and play as a team more than as individual stars.
57 cheers to Peter Obi
Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, Okwute, turned 57 yesterday. We join millions of his friends and admirers to congratulate him on this great milestone. Obi, in and out of office, has been a mentor and a role model. His love for education is legendary. That can explain his assistance to schools and indigent people since leaving office. His eight years of purposeful leadership redefined governance in Anambra State. His engaging and stimulating lectures on governance have enriched the nation’s democracy. He still maintains his austere life style even after office. We wish him a Happy Birthday. May God grant him many more years of service to humanity.