IT is unfortunate that the Edo State governorship poll earlier scheduled for tomorrow has been subjected to undue suspense and drama. INEC has not helped matters on the issue by its conflicting statements. After dithering for so long, INEC finally bowed to certain pressure to postpone the poll. The confusion created by the postponement will take some time to settle.
The postponement of the poll is sequel to the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force alarm over impending security threat that will make it necessary to shift the date of the election. The DSS and the Police had advisedly urged the INEC to postpone the election based on the alleged threat by “insurgents and extremists to cause mayhem in the country between September 12 and 13.”
The Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah, and Garba Abdullahi of the DSS disclosed this during a media briefing in Abuja. Before this confusion, the police has boasted of being ready for the poll in which the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Godwin Obaseki will lock horns with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag-bearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in an epic battle for the Government House, Benin City.
This is an election that the police had reportedly deployed a Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) and 25,000 police personnel. The police revealed that the DIG will be assisted by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police and three Commissioners of Police to make it crisis-free.
The police also claimed that helicopters and gun boats, 10 additional Armoured Personnel Carriers and 550 patrol vehicles will be deployed to cover all the polling units, rack centres, collating centres, riverine areas and difficult terrains.
Despite this deployment of security in addition to the ones in the state already, the Police and the DSS went ahead to advise the INEC to postpone the poll that a lot of human and material resources have been committed. There is all indication that INEC is ready for the Edo poll before the DSS and Police came out with their security threat story.
It is good that most Nigerians opposed the postponement. The anger was readily expressed in the media. However, it is worth recalling that this is not the first time an election is being mooted to be shifted or being postponed based on insecurity. And it is likely not going to be the last of such fairy tale either. Last year, the 2015 general election was shifted by Goodluck Jonathan administration based on insecurity.
It will be recalled that members of the ruling APC, then in opposition, cried blue murder over the postponement. They said that the postponement was a ploy to rig the poll for the PDP, which was then in power. They said all sorts of bad things over the postponement and the government that did it. That they stopped saying it is basically because they won the poll and the rest is history. Also, the Rivers State rerun poll has been postponed times without number based on insecurity.
What is surprising is that the same INEC that is postponing elections in Rivers and other states and now Edo State, held elections in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, mostly affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. The electoral umpire has held elections in Kogi State and some high violence-prone zones in the country, yet it finds it extremely difficult to conclude the Rivers poll.
Maybe those behind the current poll postponement just want to test the grounds to see if Nigerians will accept such unnecessary move at this point in time. Despite the opposition of Nigerians not to postpone the poll, INEC was prevailed upon by the security agencies to postpone the poll.
Now that the election has been postponed, it will have adverse effect on future polls including the 2019 general elections. How can the APC government convince Nigerians that it postponed the Edo poll based on the fact that the defeated insurgents will attack Edo State? Now that they have succeeded in shifting the Edo poll, what may happen in 2019 general election is better imagined than described.
Therefore, Nigerians should watch INEC and its further actions on the poll. The Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC has not lived up to public expectations in elections in the country. Most of his elections have ended up being inconclusive. Nigerians did not expect this postponement from the electoral agency. It is a pity that INEC has succumbed to security reports as the ones it is being fed with in Rivers State. With the signal from Edo, it is likely that INEC will postpone the Rivers rerun poll scheduled for October.
There may be more to this late counsel to postpone the Edo election than meets the eye. It is right that both the PDP and the ACP in Edo State kicked against the postponement. It is a surprise that Governor Adams Oshiomhole defended the postponement.
We strongly believe that there should be orderliness in the conduct of our polls. An election cannot just be postponed at the whims and caprices of an individual, a party or for certain interests. We should do things the right way.
We should not toy with our democracy and governance. Postponing the Edo poll 24 hours to the exercise sends a wrong signal to all watchers of our democracy. It does not portray us being serious. It signals a danger to the 2019 general elections.
Herdsmen menace and Fayose’s response
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, deserves huge applause for giving adequate response to the Fulani herdsmen menace in his state.
Fayose’s Ekiti Grazing Law is a model other states ravaged by the murderous herdsmen menace should emulate. It is good that Ohanaeze Ndigbo, MASSOB and Afenifere had endorsed the Fayose formula.
It is hoped that other states affected by the needless herdsmen menace should articulate firm and adequate response to the evil ravaging Nigeria. Such response has become necessary in view of Federal Government’s silence on the matter.
Benue and Enugu states governments should do something urgently to stop the herdsmen menace in their domains. It is good that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State recently formed a security committee to address the problem. He should back it up with a grazing law as Ekiti has done.