In writing this opinion, I am by no means attempting to pre-empt the outcome of the Edo State governorship election scheduled for 19th September, 2020. My desire is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people to triumph. We are sick and tired of our hope for good governance being delayed by the nefarious activities of lousy politicians and their minions.
Let the people freely decide who governs them and how they are governed. Let that wish freely expressed be respected by the powers that be. It’s abhorrent to harbor the thought of retaining or capturing votes at all cost and against the will and wish of the people.
During my private visit to Edo State, I tried to make sense of Ize Iyamu’s ‘Simple Agenda’, including speaking to some members of his new political party. Sadly, understanding the much touted ‘Simple Agenda’ is not that ‘simple’ as there isn’t much of a buy in by the people, may be because the agenda is still not well marketed.
As many people that I tried to engage on the specifics of the ‘Simple Agenda’ are confused about it and these include ardent supporters of the candidate. In the streets of Benin and around Edo State, what you hear are the voices of Captain Hossa versus Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole versus Godwin Obaseki, whereas the actual candidates whose voices need to be heard are that of Godwin Obaseki versus Osagie Ize Iyamu. Surprisingly, the voice of candidate Ize Iyamu is scarce making many to wonder if he is just a trojan horse candidate of Captain Hossa and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Going by popular public opinion and the mood of the people, Obaseki is poised for a landslide. Edo wants Obaseki but Abuja wants Ize Iyamu and from every indication Abuja is not interested in free and fair election. The unholy alliance between Abuja and INEC to cheat and steal the election is thickening for even the blind to see.
Part of the scenario painted is to saturate Edo State with thousands of armed policemen purposely to intimidate voters and suppress voter turn-out in PDP strongholds; overwhelm the governor by withdrawing his security details, thus putting him at risk (the Fayose treatment in Ekiti); put security forces at the disposal and command of the former governor of the state (this was successfully tried out in Ekiti, and in Rivers with little success); arrest PDP chieftains days to the election so as to disorganise their ground strategy; finally, irrespective of how the people voted, use INEC to declare Ize Iyamu the winner even it means doing so at gun point.
Stealing elections is not uncommon in Nigeria. From 1960 , when Nigeria attained political independence to date , the country has had the dubious honour of conducting some of the most muddled-up elections in the world. Elections in Nigeria are characterized by fraud thereby denying the people the right to choose their leaders in a free and fair contest. Election rigging since independence has delayed Nigeria’s hope for consolidated democracy. For democracy to be consolidated , the government at all levels must be legitimate. Legitimacy is in the belief in the rightness and appropriateness of the government in power and acceptability of their policies by the populace.
Some of the electoral malpractices which have continued to manifest in successive elections which Obaseki and his supporters must look out for include: illegal buying of voters’ cards; ballot box switching and inflation of figures; stuffing of ballot boxes ;illegal possession of ballot boxes ; falsification of election results; infant voting ;illegal thumb printing ; compilation of fictitious names on voters list; change of list of electoral officials; harassment of candidates, agents and voters ;announcing results in places where no election was held; illegal printing of forms used for collection and declaration of election results; deliberate refusal to supply election materials; unauthorized announcement of election results; illegal compilation of separate voters’ list; use of violence by desperate politicians; undue interference by security agents; illegal arrests of political opponents; and rigging through the courts.
Rigging through the courts is now the new normal. This is a situation where the tribunals and the highest court are used without shame to sanction and authenticate the worst kind of electoral heist. The Imo debacle of late still hunts and will continue to hunt our electoral process and jurisprudence.
The above scenarios are what Obaseki and his supporters must fully access and contend with including preparing for organised resistance of any attempt to use the police and the military to rig or change results. Obaseki’s supporters must turn out enmasse to vote massively for their candidate. Not even the old or the sick should have reasons not to vote. This election is the most important election for the people of the state.
However, if per chance the election is rigged, Obaseki must under no circumstances concede victory to Ize Iyamu. Nothing but a landslide should be acceptable to him and his party. The odds in this election favour Obaseki especially with the current economic hardship and lacklustre performance of the APC led Federal Government.
Take the economy for example; the APC government is an unmitigated disaster. They lack economic direction and has allowed commercial banks and commercial bankers to run the CBN and invariably the economy.
It is a question of common sense, that when the economy is lousy and businesses are down due to prolonged lockdown, rather than increase tariffs, taxes and oil pump price, the natural response to stimulate the economy will be to put money into people’s pockets and productivity.
There are people who teach in private schools who have not received salaries for months now due to the COVID-19 lockdown. How are they surviving? How will they pay for the increased tariffs and taxes? The president and his ruling party do not care. They don’t care about the sufferings of the people. If they do, they will understand that this is not the best time to increase cost of living which is already high. The consequence of the sporadic increase will be stagflation.
The situation is even made more precarious because the same government is unable to implement minimum wage and pay pensioners. Why will this government inflict so much pain and misery on the people?
Beside insensitivity and ignorance, what is at play is sheer wickedness. Only an unserious population will reward with votes and electoral victory candidates of a political party whose actions and policies are designed to impoverish them. In Edo 2020, the people must be prepared for resistance if their votes are stolen.