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THE Edo gubernatorial election which held on 14 July, 2012 is a lesson in deepening democracy. The announcement of Adams Oshiomole as the winner of the election was followed by jubilation in major towns and cities across the state.
The main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has accepted the results and congratulated the governor. Indeed, President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the leader of the PDP, was quick in congratulating Oshiomole. In a statement issued as soon as the results of the election were announced, he lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security services for ensuring that the elections were free and fair.
HOWEVER, it must be noted that the road to the elections were marked by great challenges. The state was gripped by tension ahead of the elections. The campaigns were gruelingly reminiscent of the “do or die” attitude that had characterised Nigerian politics in the past. Apart from Oshiomole’s allegation of threats to his life, his principal private secretary, Olaitan Oyerinde, was murdered in cold blood.
The tension raised apprehension that the elections would be anything but peaceful. The tension was further accentuated by the altercations between the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the PDP, the major parties in the state. The PDP’s control of the Federal Government made it particularly formidable. Indeed, the massive deployment of policemen and soldiers to keep the peace during the election was challenged by the ACN, some traditional rulers and other stakeholders as a ploy to intimidate and frighten the electorate by the PDP-controlled Federal Government.
IN the end, the apprehension proved unnecessary. Not only was the election peaceful, Governor Oshiomole admitted that the security agents were impartial. There was no report of intimidation or repression of civilians by policemen and soldiers. The officers and men of the police and the army conducted themselves professionally, such that their presence, in large measure, ensured that voting, counting of votes, collation and announcement of results were done in an atmosphere of peace.
THE neutrality and impartiality of the security forces under the control of the Federal Government demonstrated without doubt the avowed commitment of President Jonathan to free and fair elections. His notion of “one man one vote” and his commitment to ensuring that the votes of the electorate counted were borne out in practice.
We commend and urge him to uphold these principles in subsequent gubernatorial elections in Ondo and other states which will be conducted by INEC under his presidency.
NONETHELESS, there were some hitches during the election that INEC should address. For instance, voting materials arrived very late at some polling units in Benin-City. Also, in some polling booths, registered voters could not find their names on the voters’ register. Where names were identified, there were no pictures to validate the identities of the voters.
IN all, party members and the electorate proved to be good sportsmen and women. The party agents at the polling units conducted themselves with decorum; hence there were no disputations over the election results.
The electorate obeyed the rules of voting. They stayed on the queue and patiently followed the voting procedure. They showed no unruly behaviour, thereby demonstrating that Nigerians can be good democrats.
THE broad sweep of the polls by Oshiomole also demonstrated that Nigerians can rise above primordial sentiments, as the people voted across ethnic divides. The people demonstrated recognition of the effort of the governor to transform the state.
They showed that in a free and fair election, Nigerians can reward merit and result, regardless of primordial differences. We look forward to a similar performance, indeed a better performance in future elections across the country. This is critical because the security and logistic challenge of the Edo State election will be multiplied in the 27 states in which elections will be held in 2015 and the INEC chairman is not omnipresent.Share